About two years ago, the county faced a $19.2 million bill to replace the obsolete public safety communications system and about 3,000 radios that sheriff’s deputies, police, firefighters and others all carry. Motorola stopped making the old radios and wouldn’t service them beyond 2018.
Most local cities, townships and other jurisdictions balked at the $12.5 million radio bill — the county’s share was estimated at $3.5 million — and began looking for cheaper alternatives. The remainder of the cost covered infrastructure of the system.
The county negotiated a $10 million agreement for its needs and a half-price deal with Motorola for other jurisdictions. When county officials learned last year a 2021 software upgrade could produce “critical failures” in the old radios, several jurisdictions agreed to the bulk upgrade and purchased the new equipment. They are: Fairfield, Fairfield Twp., Middletown (police radios only), Miami University, New Miami and West Chester Twp.
Trenton Fire Chief Darrell Yater said his department was included in the council action this week so financing can be set in motion, but the purchase for fire won’t occur until after the grant result is known.
“Our funding is going to be included in that motion but we’re hoping we get the grant and we won’t be using the money, or at least all of that money for radios,” he said. “It’ll just be a percentage of it.”
The total for fire equipment is $114,015 without the grant, or 5 percent with the grant. The cost is $99,192 for the police department and $27,253 for the public works department.
Liberty Twp. is the “host” fire department for the grant application to buy the radios, and Fire Chief Ethan Klussman has said officials hope the joint effort will help secure the money.
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“Statistically speaking the AFG looks at regional grants more favorably than they do individual jurisdictional grants,” Klussman said. “That’s why we are coming together to do this, to try and increase our chances of being awarded a grant.”
Klussman said he expects the grant application to be open for submissions in early December.
The other jurisdictions involved in the grant application are: the cities of Hamilton, Middletown, Monroe, Oxford, Trenton and Hanover and the townships of Madison, Milford, Morgan, Oxford, Reily, Ross, St. Clair and Wayne.
Hamilton is the largest jurisdiction and Mercer said their price, for fire only, is $267,948 for 50 portable radios and 19 mobile units for the fire trucks.
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