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Spotsylvania hopes to sign large contract for a new radio system in December
Date published: 7/11/2012
Spotsylvania County hopes to sign a contract in December for a new public-safety radio system that may cost more than $20 million.
Jane Reeve, director of information services, on Tuesday presented what she called an escalated schedule for the project to the county Board of Supervisors.
Spotsylvania has had issues over the years with its 800-MHz analog public-safety communications system, which was installed in 1999. Just last month, a detective had problems radioing for help after he shot a robbery suspect in the leg during a struggle.
Supervisors last month voted to seek proposals from companies willing to upgrade or replace the county's radio system.
Spotsylvania officials expect to advertise the project to potential bidders on Aug. 20 and review proposals starting Sept. 19. Supervisors would approve a contract on Dec. 11, based on the current schedule.
"It's a very aggressive timeline," board Chairwoman Ann Heidig said after Tuesday's meeting. "I'm hoping we can hold to it."
Stafford County, by comparison, didn't award a contract for a new radio system until more than a year after soliciting offers, Reeve said. It reached an agreement with Motorola in 2007 and brought the new system online a few years later. Stafford's new radio system cost $26 million.
Consultant AECOM recommended in a recent report that Spotsylvania seek bids for the project instead of negotiating only with the current radio provider, Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla. Spotsylvania hired the consultant last year to evaluate its radio system.
"While Harris has offered a good price, there may be a better price available," states the report. AECOM also noted that signing a contract with Harris without soliciting other proposals would save four to six weeks but could result in legal action by another company.
The county is paying the consultant $290,000 to assist with the competitive bidding process.
Wayne Duff, an area sales manager for Harris Corp., said in a recent letter to County Attorney Jacob Stroman that he was concerned about the decision to seek offers from other companies. Harris can move quickly, he wrote, but he said the process chosen by supervisors will add "significant time" to the project.
An attorney for Motorola wrote the county a letter in June encouraging it to seek bids for the project.
Harris Corp. and Motorola are the two biggest suppliers of local-government radio systems.
AECOM, the county's consultant, has estimated that the county will need 12 to 16 radio towers. Spotsylvania currently has just three.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402