The Franklin County Regional Communications Center is asking county commissioners for $73,200 to start work on a proposed $488,000 upgrade to the county’s emergency dispatch center.

The improvements were suggested by a communications consultant hired by the county to troubleshoot chronic radio reception problems faced by public safety agencies throughout the county.

Consultant Richard Davol reported to the county that the poor coverage is the result of a range of problems, including technical issues, such as a crowded radio spectrum, radio sites not working at full capacity, and problems posed by the county’s mountainous terrain.

Stan Wheeler, director of the dispatch center, said his proposal includes a Davol suggestion to build a radio over Internet protocol system in which radio signals could be sent over the Internet. Commissioners were previously told that a similar system helped with reception problems in other areas, including northern Somerset County.

In the meantime, Wheeler said responders continue to try to work around reception problems that at times have left police and firefighters calling for help, but no one hearing them. He said the question of how urgent the need is to fix the system “depends on who you ask.”

“It’s worked OK in the sense that nobody is dead,” he said.

On Tuesday, Wheeler presented an analysis to the county commissioners that shows what it would take to complete the project.

Assuming that the project could not be funded this year, Wheeler presented on Wednesday a $73,200 proposal to start work on the project, including improving some of the worst reception zones in Phillips and Strong.

He said the plan calls for adding infrastructure in phases so that the county doesn’t get hit with the entire bill at once.

“This isn’t doing this the cheap way. This is ‘here’s a responsible budget for getting the project started,'” said Wheeler.

The initial improvements would made at the dispatch center, on the Mosher Hill tower in Farmington and at the Phillips and Strong fire departments.

Wheeler said one of the setbacks of doing the project in phases would be an inability to predict how costs might rise year to year.

The $73,200 was proposed as a supplemental budget to an overall $833,280 budget request for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The overall budget requests will need to be voted on by commissioners and the budget committee.

Last year’s budget for the dispatch center was $884,121, but the proposals are not directly comparable because some of the line items were moved into a newly formed IT budget being requested separately.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.