The Pierce County Council has approved a nearly $19 million contract for an upgraded radio system for sheriff’s deputies and other emergency responders.
The contract with Motorola Solutions Inc. would allow the county to comply with new federal standards for so-called “narrowbanding” taking effect in January 2013.
All but about $874,000 – the portion for the county’s public works department – would be funded by the South Sound 911 measure that Pierce County voters approved in November. Starting in April, it will raise the sales tax by a penny on every $10 purchase to provide money to help build a combined radio network and two new dispatch centers.
The contract faces one more step. A board of elected officials, called the South Sound 911 Policy Board, is expected to approve assigning the contract to the new South Sound 911 funding when it meets March 28.
One goal of the voter-approved measure is to remove gaps in radio coverage between emergency agencies.
The $18.65 million contract would upgrade the VHF radio system used by Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies, corrections deputies and county emergency management workers to a 700-megahertz system. That upgrade would expand the 700-megahertz system already used by Pierce Transit.
The contract includes the purchase of about 2,200 radios. The contract was reached without a bidding process because only a few firms could provide the service.
A follow-up contract will cover radios for fire departments and some small cities.
Council member Roger Bush said the technology improvements were “long overdue” and will make the residents of the county “much safer.”
The council voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve the contract, declaring an emergency to meet Motorola’s deadline for avoiding a six- to 12-month delay. Council members Dick Muri and Rick Talbert were absent.