County OKs $1.6 million radio buy

By Cecilia Fox -

MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Communication Center will be replacing first responders’ radios countywide at a cost of about $1.6 million. The Miami County Commissioners approved the purchase at their meeting Tuesday.

The $1.6 million lease-purchase agreement with Motorola was made through state term schedule purchasing and includes 719 radios — 230 portable radios for law enforcement, 256 fire and EMS portable units, and 233 mobile radios for vehicles.

The agreement features an annual payment of $258,267 for a period of seven years, with the first payment due Feb. 1, 2017.

Motorola offered a contract price 45 percent lower than the state term schedule price, Communication Center director Jeff Busch said.

As many departments in the county are smaller, the Communication Center’s board of directors worked to create an equitable distribution formula, Busch said.

The formula provides one one portable radio for every sworn law enforcement officer, two portables for each medic unit or ambulance; four portable radios per fire engine, ladder or rescue truck; one portable unit per tanker, grass or brush truck, or utility vehicle; as well as one mobile unit in all active police vehicles and fire apparatus.

The agencies will be responsible for the installation and programming of the units, as well as any accessories they want to use.

According to Busch, departments will be able to purchase additional radios at the same price until June 2016. Many fire departments have submitted grant requests to the Ohio Fire Marshall’s Office for its MARCS Grant Program.

Earlier this year, the commissioners approved the purchase of $2.5 million in upgrades to the Communication Center radio system. That purchase includes the main part of the radio system that will allow the Communication Center to connect to the state’s MARCS network, which is a multi-agency radio communication system.

The Communication Center held an event Oct. 27 and invited a number of radio vendors to meet with representatives from local public agencies and discuss their products.

Afterwards, are police chiefs recommended the Motorola radios to the Communication Center board, Busch said.

“If safety responders have recommended this, I don’t know honestly how we can go against the people we rely on to provide that service,” Commissioner Richard Cultice said.

Mike Wolf of WS Electronics asked the commissioners Tuesday to consider having a competitive bidding process to purchase new radios. He said that while he attended the Oct. 27 event, he was not informed that the county intended to make a large purchase without bidding.

Commissioner Bud O’Brien pointed out that state term pricing is a legal purchasing method and sometimes has an advantage over competitive bidding. He added that the county was then able to negotiate the price down further with Motorola.

O’Brien said the decision was up to the people who use the radios every day, echoing Cultice’s comment.

By Cecilia Fox