By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. cast a deciding vote Monday night in favor of approving a $20,000 budget amendment to build a single-site, expandable, wide-band paging system for the Cumberland County Fire Department.
Carey cast the deciding vote after Cumberland County commissioners were deadlocked over the subject in a 9-9 vote.
Carey also serves as chairman of the Cumberland County Commission. In the event of a tie vote, Carey can cast a tie-breaking vote.
Joe Koester, 5th District commissioner, said, "This project has been thoroughly discussed and reviewed several times."
Koester moved to have the budget amendment approved.
Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner and chairperson of the emergency services committee, told commissioners that both the emergency services committee and budget committee had approved the additional $20,000 amendment to build the system.
She said Steve Rich, of Communications Group, told the committee they could build a single-site system for about $50,000 to $60,000 but, if the county wanted to expand on it in the future, they would basically have to start over and lose most of the investment. With an expandable site at $120,000, the county could expand the paging system in the future.
She also said that Rich told the committee he had not built a single-site non-expandable system in more than 15 years.
Hyder then supported Koester's motion.
The county previously approved $100,000 for the system but after it was put to bid, the sole bid for the project came from Communications Group, Com Tech, of Nashville, for $128,962.
After some tweaking with the specs and lowering the wattage of the system from 250 down to 100, it will save the county another $8,000.
Procuring the additional $20,000 for the project has caused a debate among commissioners. The additional funding has stalled the project and raised questions as to why the county would build a single-site wide-band paging system that is capable of expanding, when several commissioners were under the impression they were only requesting a single site non-expandable system be constructed.
Before the vote was cast, Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, said he felt $12,017 of the funding should come from the ambulance service because not all of the $20,000 was going to be spent on paging system for the fire department.
The ambulance service will also be using the paging system.
Cumberland County must meet an FCC mandate of moving to narrowband frequency by Jan. 1, 2013. When doing so, the county will lose about 30 to 50 percent of its paging coverage. Therefore, the county was advised by Eric Ritzman, county emergency radio system consultant, to set up a new wide-band frequency paging system for the fire department volunteers who use pagers.
Ritzman told both committees the county has coverage issues in the western portion of the county and that the county needs a three-site paging system for adequate coverage.
Commissioners voting in favor of approving resolution 11-2012-4 were Hyder; Allen Foster, 4th District; Koester and Jan McNeil, 5th District; Larry Allen and Terry Carter, 6th District; Roy Turner, 7th District; Jeff Brown, 8th District; and John Kinnunen, 9th District.
Voting against approving the resolution for the paging system were commissioners Harry Sabine and Brian Houston, 1st District; Robert Safdie, 2nd District; Johnny Presley and Dave Hassler, 3rd District; Charles Seiber, 4th District; Mike Harvel, 7th District; Sonya Rimmer, 8th District; and Lynch, 9th District.
Carey then cast the deciding vote in favor of approving the resolution and it passed.
Commissioners also approved resolution 11-2012-3 — a budget amendment of $12,000 for the Cumberland County Fire Department for replacement of the current repeater and for reprogramming existing mobile and portable devices for the new narrow-band radio system.
That resolution was approved in a 13-5 vote. Voting against the amendment were commissioners Presley, Seiber, Harvel, Rimmer and Lynch.