Archive for Thursday, August 26, 2010

Insurance requirement threatens county’s negotiated radio deal

August 26, 2010

Leavenworth County government’s attempt to act as an intermediary in an agreement to secure digital radios for the county’s fire departments will apparently go forward despite the decision of two local departments not to participate.

Last month during 2011 budget discussions, county commissioners agreed to have the county act as the signatory for a deal with Motorola that would allow the purchase of the radios needed to communicate with the county’s new digital emergency communication system. In agreeing to that role, commissioners insisted on no expense for the county and that all the participating fire districts, townships and cities make room in their budgets to pay for the radios.

Chuck Magaha, county emergency management director, then negotiated a $643,000 seven-year, zero-interest lease-purchase plan with Motorola for the radios for all 11 local departments. The deadline to sign the agreement is Friday.

County Administrator Heather Morgan said Tuesday morning that two local fire departments have indicated they would look elsewhere for radios, creating concern Motorola will withdraw the negotiated terms with the purchase.

Magaha said Wednesday that after two conversations with Motorola representatives Tuesday, Morgan was able to get confirmation seven-year, no-interest plan was still on the table.

Meanwhile, the county has been awaiting interlocal agreements with the local jurisdictions, committing them to paying for the radios.

Morgan told county commissioners Thursday, Aug. 19 that some fire departments, including Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1, objected to the lease-purchase plan’s packaged insurance requirement, which would require the local departments to share the $2,600 a year premium cost, she said.

The fire departments indicated they thought they could get a better insurance deal through their own carriers, Morgan said.

“We thought the $2,600 insurance was very reasonable,” she said. “Staff’s position is: ‘We’re giving you our best and final offer. Stay or go.’”

Commissioners agreed, saying staff had spent enough time on the issue. However, they said they doubted the local departments could get a better unit price than the volume purchase Magaha negotiated.

Morgan said another savings in the arrangement was Motorola’s agreement to program the radios at no cost. Programming costs about $170 per radio, she said.

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