Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fairmount not raising mill levy for new radios

July 8, 2010

Negotiations continue between Leavenworth County rural fire departments and Motorola for new digital radios.

Purchase of the radios from Motorola came into consideration after Leavenworth County was turned down twice for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant and after a Kansas Department of Transportation program was also ruled out as a way to help pay for the radios.

Since 2008, the county has spent $69,000 from its sales tax fund to place at least two radios in each fire department, and it may pay for the first-year costs associated with a possible seven-year Motorola payment program for the radios. Doing so would cost the county about $77,000, said Chuck Magaha, county emergency management director and Fairmount Township Fire Department assistant chief.

Magaha said Fairmount Township needed to buy a total of 28 radios — seven for the fire trucks, 20 handheld radios and one for the station — which would cost about $75,000. The radios need to be obtained before January 2013 to be compliant with standards mandated by the federal government.

Fairmount’s mill levy will not be raised to compensate for the radio cost, public information officer Mark Linville said.

“We’ve already set the mill levy as of (Tuesday),” Linville said. “It will still need to be approved, but we did not raise the mill levy for the radios.”

Repayment of the radios, if bought from Motorola, would amount to about $10,000 per year, and Linville said the fire department discussed making room for such payments in future budgets.

“We probably wouldn’t see the first of those payments until 2010, but we could accommodate paying for it during the next budget year if it came to that,” he said. “We put that into the (2011) budget just in case.”

Though the digital radios will be expensive, Linville says it will be worth it for each department in the county.

“It really will make our communication much better,” he said. “It just comes at a price.”

A decision from Motorola about the exact sum of each Leavenworth County fire department’s radios should come soon, Magaha said, after which the county will again discuss helping with the cost.

“We hope to hear back from Motorola within two weeks,” Magaha said.

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