Fort Wayne and Allen County have agreed to pay about $17 million to upgrade the city-county emergency radio system and will spend the summer hashing out exactly how to pay for the overhaul.
A joint city-county emergency communications board approved the deal Wednesday after about a month of negotiations with radio maker Motorola, said Fort Wayne Fire Chief Pete Kelly. Motorola also supplied the current system.
"I really think, of course these things are expensive, but the Motorola system has been very reliable, very dependable for public safety," Kelly said. "What we hope is to have this wrapped up sometime in the next few weeks."
Under the plan, the city would buy about $5.6 million worth of new radios, while the county would pay about $2.9 million for its own units. The city and county would split the $8.5 cost of upgrading the 911 radio infrastructure, including software and new radio towers, Kelly said.
The next major task for the city and county will be to settle on a funding source for the upgrade. Allen County officials have floated the possibility of using some of the $15 million in unexpected income tax money distributed to county taxing units earlier this year to make up for a state accounting glitch.
Some of the money also may come from local 911 user fees that raise about $2.5 million annually, but no detailed funding plan has been established for the overhaul, Kelly said.
"It's been on the radar for a couple years. There's nothing specific that's been decided," he said.
The $17 million price tag puts the cost between the lowest and highest estimates for the upgrade, Kelly said. Estimates have ranged anywhere from $14 million to $24 million, he said.