County Commission supports previous digital radio decision
In front of a roomful of representatives from various townships and rural fire districts, Leavenworth County commissioners Thursday reconfirmed a decision from earlier in the week not to make a further financial contribution toward digital radios for rural fire departments.
Commissioners met June 21 with Undersheriff Ron Cranor and county emergency management director Chuck Magaha to prepare for the meeting with the township and fire district representatives. At that time, commissioners reviewed the history of the issue since 2008 and learned the county has spent $69,000 from its sales tax fund to place at least two radios in each fire department.
The county twice unsuccessfully applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to help pay for new radios for the fire districts and also once considered helping purchase the radios through a Kansas Department of Transportation program.
The county had agreed to provide a match for the grant and later the first-year cost of the KDOT program, Magaha said.
The grant is no longer an option, and the KDOT program is no longer being pursued, Magaha said.
However, the fire districts are now negotiating to purchase radios from Motorola.
The question that developed Thursday was whether the county would pay for the local fire districts’ first-year costs for the radios with the assumption the districts would get them from Motorola through a seven-year repayment plan with no or less than 1-percent interest.
Magaha said that would cost the county about $77,000.
Representatives of the local departments said they could use help.
“We’re not asking you to buy all the radios or take over that,” said Reno Township Trustee Mellissa Shepherd. “We’re just asking for a little bit of help getting started. Until we can realize the profits from an increase in the mill levy, we need a little bit of help upfront.”
Encouraged by County Clerk Janet Klasinski’s assessment that the townships absorb the mill levy increases needed to finance the radios, commissioners decided they had done enough. And Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said the fire districts got the best plan for their needs rather than becoming a part of a one-size-fits-all county plan.
Commissioners did agree the county would guarantee a loan for the local departments from Motorola if the townships made room for repayment of the radios in their mill levies.