Council to discuss $73 million contract for emergency communications system

Staff Report

County Executive Charlie Dooley’s recommendation that the county enter into a contract for a countywide emergency communications system at a cost not to exceed $73 million will be considered next week by the County Council.

The council, meeting as a Committee of the Whole, is scheduled to discuss the recommendation at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1.

As proposed, the contract with Motorola Solutions Inc. would include design, engineering services and installation of a countywide emergency communications system at a cost not to exceed $73 million and five years of maintenance services not to exceed $9.5 million.

The county’s Emergency Communications System Commission sent an Oct. 13 resolution to Dooley stating the commission had participated in negotiating the proposed contract with Motorola and recommended the County Council authorize the county executive to execute the agreement.

In an Oct. 18 letter, Dooley wrote, “It is my recommendation that the St. Louis County Council take the necessary legislative action approving the above-mentioned request.”

In November 2009, county voters approved a new, 0.1-percent sales tax to fund countywide emergency communications improvements.

Roughly 68 percent of voters supported Proposition E-911; the measure received 92,919 “yes” votes and 44,291 “no” votes.

The sales tax was designed to fund a countywide interoperable digital radio system that allows all police, firefighters, ambulance, public works personnel and other emergency service workers to communicate with each other at a disaster scene.

In addition, emergency responders will be able to meet a Federal Communications Commission requirement to narrow their frequency bands by the end of 2012. The county joins St. Louis city, Jefferson County and St. Charles County, which have similar systems in place.

In March 2010, the county sold a total of $119,235,000 in bonds through competitive bidding — $60,560,000 in tax-exempt special obligation bonds and $58,675,000 in taxable Build America Bonds, or BABs — for an effective interest rate of roughly 3.54 percent.

The bonds, which have maturity dates ranging from 2012 through 2035, will fund the construction and operation of the new countywide emergency communications system.

The bond debt will be repaid using revenues from the 0.1-percent sales tax.