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Council ponders payment options for police radios

FRONT ROYAL – The Town Council has agreed to move forward with the $545,000 purchase of a new Front Royal Police Department radio system, but must first decide how to pay for it.

Police Chief Kahle Magalis said the purchase from Motorola includes $56,800 for installation, optimization and testing and $543,900 for equipment, along with a $65,700 discount.

He added that other costs would include maintenance fees ranging from $6,000 to $8,000 per year.

Purchasing options include the town lending itself money from its general fund, a lease agreement, or using the New Market Tax Credit Program.

The town could lease the system from Motorola over four, five or seven years, of which the councilmen agreed the seven-year lease would be best.

That option would come with a 4.86 percent interest rate and require $102,000 annual payments. Town Finance Director B.J. Wilson noted that the town has $50,000 budgeted in the fiscal year 2019 for the radio system, but the first payment will not be due until 2020.

He said the town could also see if the Virginia Municipal League or the Virginia Association of Counties can offer better financing options and interest rates.

Wilson said the town lending itself the money, forgoing interest rates, would be the most beneficial option. 

The final option would be incorporating the radio purchase into New Market Tax Credit Program loan for construction of the new police station. Wilson said he did not know if this would be possible but said he would find out.

Town Manager Joe Waltz said in a “best case” scenario the radio system will be ready to go when the Police Department moves into its new headquarters, which is scheduled for a Dec. 31 partial completion date.

Mayor Hollis Tharpe agreed and said that it is “common sense” to not have the Police Department move its old equipment into the new station only to move it out soon after.

Butch Bryant, a Motorola representative, said that the town would ideally purchase the radio by the end of September, which would allow proper time to get the system “optimized and tested.”

The council came to a consensus that members would like to hear more details on the options at a future work session before reaching a decision.

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