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Palm Coast Tuesday, May 22, 2018 4 months ago

County prepares for new public safety radio system

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The county is preparing to upgrade its emergency communication system.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

County Commissioners at their May 21 meeting approved a $14 million, 17-year capital lease with a fixed rate of 3.42% from CenterState Bank to fund the purchase of a new emergency radio communication system.

The plan involves constructing six new towers and implementing hardware and software changes. The new radios used by first responders will be Motorolas.

The commission also approved the creation of a new staff position: public safety systems coordinator.

The position, which will be within the county’s Innovation Technology department, will involve supporting the new emergency communication system. 

It will have a combined salary and benefits of $80,000.

The public safety systems coordinator, Coffey said, will be trained by Motorola to maintain the new system.

The County Commission passed both measures unanimously.

Commissioners delay vote on tourism website upgrade

At the same meeting, commissioners  pushed back on a county staff proposal to spend $284,475 to re-work the county’s tourism development website, saying they hadn’t been given enough information to make an informed vote.

The proposal was part of the meeting’s consent agenda — a section of bundled items that are usually passed altogether through a single vote, without individual discussion of each one — but commissioners wanted more information before approving it.

“When I looked at the number — $284,000 for a website — I said to myself, that seems like a lot of money,” Commissioner David Sullivan said during the meeting. “My concern is this: We’re in a tough budget year, and we need to look at everything very carefully.”

Sullivan asked the county administrator, Craig Coffey, to have staff provide the commission with information on what it cost to set up and maintain all of the county’s various websites.

Commissioner Greg Hansen noted the comparative dearth of supporting information in the meeting agenda documents concerning the proposal.

“What was in your read-ahead for this was not adequate,” he said to Coffey. “There wasn’t enough there for me to feel comfortable. … Normally when we have a procurement like this, there’s 10, 11 pages of backup.” This had four.

The proposed contract with Simpleview, LLC, would let the county’s tourism development staff launch a new website next January. It would involve an initial one-time cost of $46,475, then recurring costs of $56,000 annually, according to a county staff summary.

Coffey told commissioners that the tourism development staff is already spending more money on its current website.

“This one happens to be cheaper and more on point for tourism,” he said.

Because the new system would ultimately cost less that the current one, Coffey said, the money for the change is already in the county’s budget. Suggestions that the county simply create the website in-house the way Palm Coast does, he said, aren’t workable because the county doesn’t have the staff to do so, and hiring that kind of staff would be pricier than contracting the job out.

Amy Lukasik, the county tourism office’s director of marketing, said that although the current website does function, “We are extremely limited with our capabilities. ... We have been limited with our website with just the simplest things, and it’s extremely frustrating.”

The new website would have a content management system “specifically built for tourism staff to maximize website editing for content distribution,” plus search engine optimization, according to the county staff summary.

Commissioners will discuss the proposal at their May 29 budget workshop and will vote on it during their June 4 meeting.

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