Early this year the Wayne County Commissioners contracted for a radio study to evaluate our current radio system. This study showed many shortcomings and suggested the county move to a P25 digital system. We are happy to report that the Commissioners plan to move the Sheriff’s Office over to MARCS before the end of 2016.
Wayne County Commissioners recently sent the email below to the Rittman Mayor, Village Mayors, Trustees and Fiscal Officers.
This email is to update everyone on the county’s progress and commitment in moving toward a MARCS Radio System.
1. In order for political subdivisions to plan their budgets, the Commissioners are committed to keeping the same low rates for political subdivisions that dispatch with Wayne County-8500. Most political subdivision contracts end in 2016. For 2017 and 2018, we have guaranteed no more than a 2% increase each year of the contract.
2. The Commissioners are installing infrastructure for the MARCS radios to make sure there is good radio coverage across the entire County. We are looking at 3 tower sites, at an estimated cost of $980,000. These towers are in addition to the two (2) towers that MARCS already has in Wayne County. There are also MARCS towers that are located in neighboring counties, which help provide coverage for some of the political subdivisions on the edge of our County. This will make a reliable network for our first responders. A propagation study has been done that shows this coverage. We are not asking any political subdivisions for financial contributions toward the cost of this improvement. If you would like to see the propagation studies which map the radio coverage, please call Joe Villegas, our Emergency Management Director.
3. The Commissioners are putting in the necessary equipment to handle MARCS radios in our Wayne County-8500 Dispatch and in the Rittman Dispatch, as they serve as our backup. This is an estimated $100,000. Our goal is to install the equipment in the Dispatches for MARCS and to move the Sheriff’s Office over to MARCS before the end of 2016.
4. Every political subdivision in Wayne County, that is eventually going with MARCS radios, will need to negotiate their own Tier One agreement with MARCS. In that agreement, your monthly fee per radio is $10.00. Because the County is installing infrastructure for the MARCS system, we will be entering a Tier Two agreement with MARCS. In a Tier Two agreement, the cost of the radios to the County is $20.00 per month per radio. The County will have some credit from the investment to offset monthly radio fees, but we recently discovered the credit is very minimal compared to what we originally understood. Therefore, there is no benefit to having all political subdivisions come under the County’s Tier Two agreement when you, on your own, can have a Tier One agreement at $10.00 per month per radio. Please contact MARCS representative Dick Miller to discuss a Tier One agreement. .
5. In the State Budget Bill, there was language for a public safety grant of $20 million. $10 million is available in 2016 and $10 million in 2017. Representative Amstutz stated that this grant would be up to $100,000 per political subdivision. Radio communications equipment is eligible. Rep. Amstutz stated that the rules for the grant are currently being written. This is a competitive grant and applications will be available in January. Joe Villegas would be willing to help with the grant, if your subdivision requests it. Once we know the rules, Joe Villegas will get that information out to first responders.
6. The grant application for all of Wayne County’s eligible fire departments has been sent in to Chief Larry Flowers. We appreciate everyone cooperating with this effort. Chief Flowers stated that if all the fire departments go together, there is an excellent likelihood that each fire department would receive a $50,000 grant toward radios and user fees. This grant can be applied for again in following years. Belmont County received the last year’s grant and purchased radios. This year, they used the grant for user fees.
7. The County will be maintaining two (2) radio systems, our current VHF and the new digital, while this transition is made. It is our intent that fire department paging will be maintained on the current system until a reliable digital fire paging product is available.
8. We encourage every political subdivision to explore any grant opportunities that are available. As Commissioners, we are looking for any other grant opportunities that will help all of Wayne County.
We appreciate working together with you as the County moves toward this new radio system, which will benefit all first responders. We know this is a lot of information. Please contact us if you have questions. Thank you.
Ann M. Obrecht
Scott S. Wiggam
Wayne County Commissioners
428 West Liberty Street
Wooster, Ohio 44691