By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — The use of new communications technology is adding about $1.7 million to the cost of Essex County’s public safety radio project.
The county is also paying attorney Jackie Murray $50,000 more to handle licensing and permitting for the now $17 million project.
The county previously issued $10 million in municipal bonds for the project and expects to pay for the rest from state and federal grants.
The County Board of Supervisors approved Murray’s increase recently by a vote of 13 to 3.
Supervisors Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah), Roby Politi (R-North Elba) and Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) were opposed. Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) and Supervisor Michael Marnell (R-Schroon) had been excused from the meeting.
Murray’s contract will now be increased from $375,000 to $425,000 and be extended to Dec. 31, 2013.
Her work was praised by County Attorney Daniel Manning III, who said that among her tasks was obtaining numerous Adirondack Park Agency permits for the project’s tower sites.
“Those things take a great deal of time and effort,” Manning said. “It is a lot of money, but it’s a lot of work.”
County Manager Daniel Palmer said the original plan in 2009 was for only five tower sites.
“We have expanded that system. We now have a 26-site system that’s a full loop that provides partnership with New York State Police and New York State Electric and Gas. That increases cost.”
He said the system has been revised and updated continually as they have proceeded over the last four years.
“We hope the actual construction will start in the spring,” Palmer said. “It’s based on shared services (with State Police and NYSEG). If we applied for grants and didn’t have shared services, we wouldn’t have gotten very far. I’m reasonably certain we’re going to get all the grants (applied for).”
Most of the increased cost is for a Motorola Astro 25 M2 communications system, Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said.
He said the preliminary Motorola contract was for $2.4 million, including new radio frequencies, but didn’t include an equipment monitoring system for the towers and the M2 master radio controller.
The original radio core was not expandable, he said, so they went to an M2 core that is.
“That’s the principal cost of the change order,” Jaquish said. “Some of that was due to State Police requirements, so Jackie Murray is negotiating with State Police right now to get them to pay some of that.”
He said the price for all Motorola equipment and installation is now $4.1 million.
The county is replacing its 1950s-era radio system with a state-of-the-art multi-channel digital communications network that will serve the County 911 Center in Lewis and will be used to dispatch police, fire and emergency-medical services countywide.
The Board of Supervisors will vote on the increased costs order at a later date.
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