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Spotsy buys $19 million public safety radio system

Spotsylvania County has entered into a $19 million contract for a long-awaited new public safety radio system. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve the deal with Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla., which is the county’s current radio provider.

Spotsylvania has had issues over the years with its existing analog radio system, which was installed in 1999 and enables firefighters, police officers and others to communicate with each other. Last year, for instance, a detective had problems radioing for help after he shot a robbery suspect in the leg during a struggle.

The new 800-MHz digital radio system, scheduled to be fully implemented by the summer of next year, will cover 95 percent of the county, based on the approved contract with Harris Corp. It will include 10 towers, or seven more than the current system.

The cost of the actual radio system—to include tower sites and new radios—is $14.9 million. Future maintenance adds another $4.1 million to the price tag.

In addition to the contract with Harris, supervisors agreed to pay AECOM, a consultant, another $225,756 to manage and oversee the radio system’s implementation.

County Administrator Doug Barnes included an initial payment of $9.8 million for the radio system in his recommended spending plan for the budget year that runs from July 1, 2013, until June 30, 2014.

Supervisors are scheduled to approve the spending plan—which would keep the real estate tax rate at 88 cents per $100 of assessed value—next month.

Spotsylvania officials advertised the radio project to potential bidders in August 2012. Harris Corp. and Motorola—the two biggest suppliers of local-government radio systems—submitted bids. The county issued a notice of intent to award the radio contract to Harris in November, and officials have been negotiating a deal since then.

“I’m delighted that we were able to get this all done so quickly,” Supervisor Ann Heidig said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Stafford County, by comparison, awarded a contract for a new public safety radio system more than a year after soliciting offers. It reached an agreement with Motorola in 2007 and brought the new system online a few years later at a cost of $26 million.

Spotsylvania supervisors say public safety is among their priorities for the upcoming budget year.

In addition to money for the new radio system, the county administrator’s recommended budget includes $600,000 for nine additional firefighters. That is 21 firefighters short of what’s called for in a Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management staffing plan approved by supervisors in March 2012.

So far, the board has funded almost half of the 55 positions identified in that plan. Fire Chief Chris Eudailey and Deputy Fire Chief Scott Hechler updated supervisors on fire and rescue staffing during a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting.

Emergency response times have decreased over the last year at all of the county’s 10 stations—half of which are scheduled to meet the county’s staffing goals by the end of next month.

“I think that’s directly reflective of what staffed stations will do for the system,” Eudailey said.


WHAT: Spotsylvania School Board and Board of Supervisors town hall meeting

WHEN: 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Courtland High School auditorium, 6701 Smith Station Road

DETAILS: Participants may submit a question in advance or at the meeting. To submit a question, go to:

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402