Additional radios, tower request puts radio communication project to $5.67 million

Published 1:31 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A new radio communication system for the county will cost 50 percent more than anticipated, according to a contractor overseeing the project.

Scott Tidwell of Motorola Solutions, Inc., which represents TCAN, told the Carter County Budget Committee on Monday an additional 182 radios and a new tower to cover the Roan Mountain area will cost $5.67 million, an increase from original estimates of $3.7 million.

Tidwell said the increase came as a result of the commission’s request to get a better overall scope of the project with new equipment being added.

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“This comes from what you asked, not (from) me adding anything from my side,” Tidwell said. “This total includes 182 radios plus programming and installation, adding one RF site plus a microwave and the installation, and civil work at White Rock with a new building and tower. We got together with the users of the system to make sure we had the needed equipment which included the additional radios coming mainly from the fire departments.”

The fire departments initially requested pagers but in meeting with Tidwell asked for the radios instead. County EMA Director Billy Harrell told the committee that the fire departments wanted “a lot more radios than they needed.”

“They were wanting pagers and radios and I told them they could only have one or the other,” Harrell said. “They were also over-asking for radios for their departments.”

When asked how many extra radios the fire departments should have by District 3 Commission Brad Johnson, Harrell said no more than three to five per department.

The initial request for radios was 636 which came to a total of $2,684,341. By requesting 818 radios, that pushed the total cost for radios alone to $3,334,511.

Tidwell’s purpose for appearing before the committee was for an update only and no further action was taken during the meeting.

Caroline Chinouth, director of the Carter County Health Department, also appeared before the board requesting the committee approve moving $10,000 from reserve funding for the health department.

“We have a healthy reserve fund and are asking for $10,000 to be used to cover utility overages,” Chinouth said. “The cost of utilities started to go up, and we didn’t have the funds in our line items to cover the increases.”

Chinouth requested $4,000 for electricity (line item 415); $5,800 for gas (line item 434); and $200 for water (line item 454).

The budget committee also approved $987 in monetary and non-monetary donations for the animal shelter.