Marshfield to study police/fire radio funding alternative
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield officials will explore a different–and potentially less-expensive–plan for getting better radios into the hands of the police and fire departments.
With Alderman Jason Zaleski absent, the Marshfield Common Council voted 9-0 July 24 in favor of directing city staff to further investigate a proposal floated by Police Chief Rick Gramza, in which the city would scrap a four-year phase-in of a new radio system, get all the equipment now, and pay for it over five to six years.
“Based on the way the numbers looked in the financing, it was going to be appropriate or respectable – the numbers we were potentially looking at – and any finance fees that would result from that purchase were not so significant where it made this a bad deal,” he said.
Gramza said the overall cost of the plan would be $683,000 under the lease option, versus $765,000 for a four-year phase-in option. Gramza also said the vendor – Green Bay-based Baycom Corporation – would require 10 percent down, or $68,000 this year from the department.
“In all we would be looking at, and I am just throwing ball parks out there, about $125-130,000 of the $195,000 that we budgeted, so we are still, I guess, under budget this year whether (the council) chose to just make a bigger down payment and reduce our annual costs,” he said, “but, it would be roughly $71,000 for the fire department and about $64,000 for the police department, which would be due at the end of each year. So, the next payment wouldn’t be due until fall or early winter maybe of 2019, would be the $64,000 from the police and the $71,000 from the fire, and then it would follow that for the next five years.”
Marshfield aldermen had voted last month in favor of a budget resolution redirecting $190,000 to cover the installation of a simulcast system that was initially earmarked for purchasing new portable radios for police.
Alderman Tom Witzel said the potential cost-saving is worth another look at the overall police communication system.
“I personally think with the issues we have with the communication, it’s not just a police officer issue; it’s a citizen issue,” Witzel said. “We rely on these officers to be able to communicate for the safety of our citizens. I think that it is worth our effort to dig into this and see if this is a doable to resolve this issue once and for all.”
The police radio issue came to light last year when the Marshfield Police Department discovered their portable radios were not working from certain areas of the city.