County to seek firms to replace radio system

WOODSTOCK – The cost of a new radio system for Shenandoah County and how the government pays for the equipment remain unknown.

The Board of Supervisors plan to issue a request for proposals from firms interested in replacing the county’s aging radio system. Submissions should give county officials an idea of the cost, R. Jason Malloy, director of emergency communications stated in an email Monday. The action will come almost two years after the county learned the equipment would soon reach its end of life.

Malloy and the board discussed the situation with the aging radio system during the board’s work session last week. The consultant hired by the county to perform the needs assessment report on the system presented its findings in June.

Malloy has told the board several times the county can expect the radio system to hits its “end-of-life” in the near future. Malloy received the end-of-life notices in September 2015. He then notified supervisors during his department presentation at the board’s October 2015 day meeting.

Since then, county officials and the board have deliberated on and adopted two fiscal budgets.

Chairman Conrad Helsley pointed out at the end of Malloy’s presentation that the funding source for the project still remains unknown. County leaders have yet to set aside any funds for the radio replacement project.

At least half the board has fought against tax increases the past two years that could have given the county additional revenue to help cover the cost to replace the radio system.

The consultant hired by the county to perform a needs assessment report listed a rough cost estimate of between $8 million for one option and $10 million for an alternative. The numbers do not take into account any discounts from state contracts, volume pricing or competitive bids, Malloy explained.

The county covered the cost of the needs assessment report with a $75,000 grant from the State Homeland Security Program through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. The grant covered milestones for the needs assessment project such as the initial meetings held with public safety agencies, the school system, public works and the county administration as well as the creation and delivery of the report itself. The grant also covers the creation and delivery of the request for proposals as well as its review and subsequent contract negotiation, Malloy stated. The county has spent $50,000 of the grant on the assessment work, leaving $17,000 for the request-for-proposal process and $8,000 for the review and contract negotiations.

The county has formed a radio system work group comprised of representatives from Malloy’s agency, local police departments and the Sheriff’s Office, paid and volunteer staff in fire and rescue, public works, the School Board and the Planning Department.