County attorney to review radio equipment RFP

Published 11:35 am Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors has asked the county attorney to review the Request for Proposal for new radio communications equipment.

No vendor was selected at the supervisor’s January meeting, and two companies are vying to handle the project.

Instead, the board voted to have County Attorney Russell Slayton review the Request for Proposal — known as a RFP — and determine if it is valid or if the specifications were changed so much during the evaluation process that the RFP needs to be reissued, County Administrator Dan Witt said.

A RFP is a document that solicits a business proposal, often made through a bidding process. Oftentimes it is submitted either at the preliminary study, or procurement stage of a project, Wikipedia notes.

Slayton is also going to contact adjacent localities that have recently purchased radio systems, then have an engineer review the two proposals the county received and compare them to the systems other localities recently purchased, Witt said.

The supervisors are requesting an update at their Wednesday, Feb. 13, meeting.

There are components of the county’s E-911 that will be updated as part of the new communication system, enhancing communications between dispatch and all the other agencies, Witt said.

“The new system would improve safety for officers and emergency services personnel. There are a lot of areas in the county were radio coverage is inadequate or non-existent,” Witt wrote in an email interview. “The proposed system would place sheriff, fire, rescue and schools all on one system, allowing them to communicate with each other more efficiently.”

The new system would move the county from a Very High Frequency system to an Ultra High Frequency system, enhancing communications with emergency services personnel in adjacent localities, he said.

In 2018, the board was told the estimated cost would be $300,000 annually for 10-15 years, but, Witt acknowledged, “The bids came in significantly higher than that.”

One bidder’s average annual cost is $377,000 over the course of a 15- year lease, while the other is $352,094 for the same period, the minutes of the board’s Jan. 9 meeting show. But the minutes also show there are additional costs with each proposal.

“Ultimately tax dollars either from the general fund reserves, annually appropriated funds or borrowed funds would be used” to pay for it, Witt wrote. “There may be some grant funds available, but that has not been thoroughly researched at this time.”

The company that is selected will be responsible for designing, installing and maintaining the system.

The supervisor’s communications committee recommended to the board of supervisors that a bid be accepted and that the supervisors allow the committee to negotiate with one of the bidders. But at the January meeting, the supervisors rejected that recommendation on a 4-3 vote and instead gave directions to staff to work with legal counsel and bring the findings back to the February meeting.