The McCracken County Tax Court agreed to pay half the projected cost to Federal Engineering, a telecommunications consulting firm, to find and evaluate service offerings for a new 911 digital radio system at its Monday night meeting.
The estimated cost to the county is $33,895, with the city of Paducah expected to match that amount.
Dr. Irvin Smith, a member of the Paducah County and City 911 Communications Oversight Committee, told tax court that the radio tower system used by the city and county’s 911 system needed upgrades. and repairs. Repairs and upgrades are expected to cost between $10 million and $12 million, with the cost to be split in half between the county and the city.
Federal Engineering would help prepare tender specifications for telecommunications companies, and for companies to submit bids and proposals on how they would upgrade radio towers, and possibly add new towers, in the city. and the county. Federal Engineering would then help the city and county evaluate the offers and choose an offer that would best serve the city and county’s 911 system in the future, Smith said.
“Why these towers are necessary is [because] we need to make sure that individual officers, whether firefighters or law enforcement, can operate his radio when they need help or need to communicate information,” Smith said.
Neal Krinard, who now serves as assistant director of communications for the McCracken County Emergency Management Department, provided some background on how radios and radio towers communicate.
Krinard said he was a proponent of using five or six radio towers throughout the city and county to help ensure that wherever a first responder is in the county, they would be close enough to a tower to use their radio effectively. Currently, Krinard said there are dead spots in the county where a first responder cannot get a radio signal.
County Commissioner Eddie Jones, who represents the county on the 911 Communications Oversight Committee, said the repairs, while the most expensive part of the 911 system to upgrade, are necessary to ensure the safety of first responders.
“The current system cannot be ignored, must not be ignored. It would be a violation of our public duty to continue to ignore it,” Jones said.
Community development project manager Steve Ervin also briefed the tax court on improvements to the facilities at Floral Hall in Carson Park. Most of the interior has been updated, including a fresh coat of paint and repairs to the bathroom. Ervin said the remaining work includes electrical and plumbing repairs. Because inmate labor was used, the Floral Hall project cost less than $15,000, Ervin said.
Executive Judge Craig Clymer said the Floral Hall upgrade would provide county residents with a low-cost venue option, with space for up to 400 people. Clymer added that the county is hosting an open house at Floral Hall so the community can see some of the improvements in person Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The tax tribunal also convened earlier Monday afternoon to conclude discussions on funding outside agencies as part of fiscal year 2023 budget planning. Commissioners voted to approve $155,000 to Sprocket for the Local Innovation Lab 1ST50K competition that brings start-ups to Paducah and for Sprocket’s Business Accelerator Program. The commissioners also approved the allocation of funds to Reidland Farley Baseball to help the organization pave roads near its fields.
In other tax court cases:
• Commissioners approved a payment of $100,000 to the Paducah-McCracken County River Authority to meet a matching requirement for a grant the River Authority was approved for earlier this year.
• Commissioners approved a contract between McCracken County Jail and Guardian RFID for an RFID scanning system inside the jail.
Clymer praised the work and career of Executive Assistant to Executive Judge Vicky Potts, who also serves as a tax court clerk. Potts will step down at the end of July, Clymer said during Monday’s meeting.