The radio system that serves Carroll County fire, rescue, and emergency medical services as well as law enforcement agencies is not in danger of suddenly failing, but the availability of parts to repair equipment could soon become scarce.
The Board of Carroll County Commissioners took the next step Thursday in a process that dates back eight years to replace the county's current analog radio system with a digital radio system.
The board voted unanimously to award a contract of $14.6 million to Motorola Solutions for the transition from analog to digital radio services. The board also voted unanimously to approve the purchase of 500 portable radios with Motorola for $1.8 million.
Commissioners Richard Rothschild and Robin Frazier were absent from the meeting.
The goal has been to have the digital radio system up and running by the end of 2014, according to Scott Campbell, administrator of the Office of Public Safety Support Services.
Campbell said this purchase will allow the county to meet that deadline "if not exceed it by months."
The purchase of the radios and funding for the transition had already been allocated in the fiscal year 2014 capital improvements plan (CIP) budget. But the commissioners approved a resolution transferring funds from another project in the fiscal year 2013 CIP budget to pay for the radio transition with funds from the 2013 CIP.
Funds originally designated in the 2014 CIP for the radio transition will now be used to reimburse the project funds that were transferred.
This transfer of funds netted the county a savings of more than $550,000. The county was able to save $225,000 on the radios and $333,907 on the contract with Motorola by approving the purchase and contract Thursday instead of waiting until next month.
Campbell said the county has been researching the possibility of replacing the analog system since he was named administrator of the department eight years ago.
The primary reason the county has been looking at replacing the system is its age.
Finding parts and vendors to service the system have become a challenge in recent years, Campbell said.
Thursday's vote by the commissioners represents the last "large purchase" in the process to replace the analog radio system, according to Campbell.