Channel will be added to county radio system

Channel capacity is being added to Anoka County’s 800 megahertz public safety radio system.

by Peter Bodley
Managing editor

Channel capacity is being added to Anoka County’s 800 megahertz public safety radio system.

The Anoka County Board, on the recommendation of its Management Committee, has approved an agreement with Motorola for equipment and services for the addition of a channel in an amount not to exceed $325,250.

But no county dollars will be required to pay for the enhancement of the system from 14 to 15 channels, according to John Tonding, Anoka County Central Communications manager.

A federal homeland security grant will pay the entire cost, Tonding said.

The anticipated $49,750 that the county had budgeted in 2010 to supplement the federal grant won’t be needed, he said.

The project can be implemented within the confines of the federal grant award based on updated pricing from Motorola.

The additional channel will increase capacity for all police and fire users countywide, Tonding said.

“This channel expansion is particularly important considering the substantial growth in the number of radios in our fleet,” he said.

“There are times when all the channels in the system are busy, especially when there are high volume events, like severe weather or wildfires, when a lot of different agencies are using different channels.”

The added channel will ensure that the system has the capacity to meet those demands, Tonding said.

Tonding expects the new channel to be in place before the end of the year, he said.

In addition, the county board approved a sub-grant agreement with the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board (MESB) to receive the federal grant. The state passes on the homeland security grant dollars to the MESB.

The countywide 800 megahertz public safety radio system went on line in 2004 and has very successful, according to Tonding.

“It has been everything we had hoped it would be and enhanced public safety in the county,” Tonding said.

The countywide public communications system was put in place to improve emergency communications between the county’s 911 central communications and local police and fire departments, resulting in decreased response times.

To pay for the new system, the county issued $10.5 million in bonds, which are being paid off by county taxpayers through a line item on the annual property tax bill, which runs for 10 years and first appeared on taxpayers’ 2003 tax bill.

Federal homeland security grants were also received to fund a portion of the project cost.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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