County Executive, First Responders, Urge Action for Critical Emergency Communications System
September 20, 2011
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 843-8858
The county stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, and face the delayed implementation of a critical emergency communications system for first responders, following the action of ten Dane County Board members to delay funding for the project, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi warned today at an event with Dane County public safety leaders and county first responders.
“These ten supervisors are standing in the way of ten years of work,” said Parisi. “The new emergency communications system is the result of a partnership between the county and its first responders, our 61 cities, villages and towns, and countless local elected officials and public safety advocates. The county board must approve this resolution so our work can continue, and our taxpayers can be spared the serious ramifications of senseless inaction.”
The bonding resolution necessary to fund previously approved public safety projects, including a new countywide emergency communications network for police, fire, and emergency medical services; a new computer system to help 911 operators dispatch responders to an emergency more quickly; and a new siren system to better warn citizens of severe weather danger; was to pass last Thursday at the Dane County Board’s regular meeting.
As a result of their inaction, the county could fail to come into compliance with federal regulations requiring that the new emergency radio system be in place and activated by January 1 of 2013. Failure to meet the deadline would result in a fine of up to $10,000 per day, per radio frequency, the system is not active. A total of 18 frequencies are to be used for the project.
“The men and women who keep Dane County’s residents safe rely on emergency communications systems to respond quickly and stay informed of changing events in an emergency,” said Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. “To delay these important projects for political gain is cynical at its best, and at its worst, a costly detriment to public safety.”
If the ten supervisors do not approve the bonding resolution at the next Dane County Board meeting, the county will likely have to suspend its contract with Harris Corporation, the company responsible for building the new countywide emergency communications system. The county will still be responsible for payment of services to date, and could face other penalties for breach of contract.
To prevent further cost to the county taxpayer from any fines, penalties and forfeitures incurred due to the supervisors’ actions, the County Executive will also ask 911 Center Director John Dejung to submit a waiver to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting an extension of the emergency radio project deadline.
Supervisors Clausius, Martz, Ferrell, Willett, Gau, Bruskewitz, Imhoff, Wiganowsky, Schlict, and Jensen, decided to reverse their support for the emergency communications system and other public safety projects in an effort to block the borrowing resolution necessary to fund the initiatives, preventing the projects from moving forward.
The county board is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, October 6th at 7pm.
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