$ 14 million improve to Cass County’s emergency radio system almost full
According to project manager Brian Zastoupil of the Red River Regional Dispatch Center, the new system of 1,800 radios for nationwide public safety and public works workers should be fully functional by September.
The radios are used by urban and rural firefighters, police and sheriff departments, rescue workers, public works workers, and anyone else involved in public safety.
The 15-year-old system that the county is replacing is outdated and inefficient. Some parts for the radios and other infrastructure are no longer available from manufacturers, Zastoupil told district officials at their meeting on Monday, June 21.
About 75% of the radios were handed over to Fargo staff and the sheriff’s department, he said. The other 25% will go to rural users in the coming weeks.
Zastoupil received approval this week from Cass County officers for an additional 181 portable radios, 30 standby radios for civil riot or visits from dignitaries, and signal boosters in schools across the county to help with transmissions through the nine towers in the nationwide emergency system.
The additional radios will cost $ 597,288, but Zastoupil said he saw a significant price mismatch in the contract that will ultimately result in a $ 417,779 credit to the county. That money will help cover the cost, he said.
Zastoupil said the county needed the additional radios because it had grown.
When CEO Chad Peterson asked why the county needed so many more radios, Zastoupil said the original deal with Motorola was based on outdated information from more than a decade earlier.
The system was the subject of a vote by the county’s residents in 2018 when voters rejected a measure to pay the new system with an increase in VAT. Instead, the county had to collect property taxes for what Zastoupil called “critical” systems upgrade.
The North Dakota legislature may at some point have to approve funding for similar upgrades to county systems across the state, said Peterson, who stated that many smaller counties cannot afford to do so independently.
Peterson said he hopes the state of Cass County will offer a refund on his system.