By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
Construction of a new wide-band emergency paging system for the county fire department will become a reality now that the Cumberland County Finance Committee approved a bid proposal during last week's committee meeting.
Although the bid was approved, there was some questioning from at least one county commissioner.
The committee approved a $92,885.76 bid proposal from CommTech of Nashville. CommTech was the sole bidder.
Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, and Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner, both asked why the bid was coming in lower.
"Had we known this we could have had the system done months ago. What happened?" Lynch asked.
The county previously approved $100,000 for the system in August of this year, but after it was put to bid, the sole bid for the project came from Communications Group, CommTech, of Nashville, for $128,962.
The county then had to approve an additional $20,000 for the project.
Eric Ritzman, communications consultant and P-25 radio system administrator, said after some tweaking of the specs and lowering the wattage of the system from 250 to 100, it saved around $8,000.
"The price also dropped because we took the pager repairs off the quote for the recrystaling of the pagers that we are going to do. That brought CommTech's portion down. We should have everything we need," Ritzman said. "I'm not sure what the issue is here. We were told to cut costs down."
"We're talking $25,000 versus $7,000. We asked if there were things that could be eliminated and were told 'you couldn't.' Now we're being told you don't need things that we were told you had to have," Lynch said.
"I'm not sure what was done to change (the system) or get around it," Ritzman said.
"Are you recommending this bid or not?" Lynch asked.
"Yeah, I will call (CommTech) and find out," Ritzman said.
"How much in addition to this bid will be added for the project?" Nathan Brock, Cumberland County finance director, asked.
Ritzman estimated that in all the total cost of the project will be around $110,000 or less.
The ambulance service will also be using the paging system.
Cumberland County must meet an FCC mandate of moving to narrow-band frequency by Jan. 1, 2013. When doing so, the county will lose about 30 to 50 percent of its paging coverage. Therefore, the county was advised by Ritzman to set up a new wide-band frequency paging system for the fire department volunteers who use pagers.
Ritzman told both the emergency services and budget committees the county has coverage issues in the western portion of the county and that the county needs a three-site paging system for adequate coverage.
"Well, the bottom line is the cost is less than what we thought ... We got the extra $20,000 and we argued a lot. It's all been OK'd by the commission so I'm not going to sit here and try to stop what's been done. If it's inside the budgeted number, I have to support it even though I may not agree with it," Harvel said.
Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, made a motion to accept the bid as presented and Harvel supported the motion, adding that if it comes in under $100,000 then it has to come back to the committee.
A brief debate then ensued because the bid being approved was for $92,885.76 by CommTech and any costs for work on the project would have to come to the finance committee anyway.
"Okay, I withdraw the amendment then," Harvel said.
The motion then was unanimously approved.
The bid approved is for a single site, but could be expanded to more sites in the future.
Finance Committee members Scott Blaylock, Cumberland County Road Superintendent, and Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle did not attend the meeting.