By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Some details about the new 800 MHz radio system for emergency services are yet to be determined, but one thing that is clear, according to Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson, is that it is going to cost a lot of money.
Lester Prairie, like other cities across the Minnesota, is working toward implementation of the state-mandated 800 MHz radio system
Carlson recently attended a meeting regarding the “Minnesota local and regional public safety interoperable communications assessment project,” and told the city council Tuesday evening that the city needs to start now to pay for the project.
The cost to the city will include an estimated $44,200 for the police department and an estimated $82,800 for the fire department, for a total of $127,000. This does not include equipment that will be needed for the city’s public works or administrative staff.
“We are doing everything we can to save money,” Carlson said.
He explained that the county will be bulk-purchasing equipment for all agencies within the county to reduce the cost.
Carlson also said the county and the city are looking for grants to help pay for the new system.
Regardless of whether or not the city receives grant money for a portion of the project, Carlson said it will have to be considered when the city is preparing its budget.
“We will have to put some money away,” Carlson said. “It’s going to be very costly.”
The city will need to implement the new system by January 2012.
If the city is not in compliance by that time, according to Carlson, the city will be subject to fines every time they use their existing radios, and could eventually lose its Federal Communications Commission license.
So far, the city has not set any money aside to help pay for the new system, and it was not included in the city’s preliminary budget for 2010, according to City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk.
Aside from the cost issue, both Carlson and Mayor Andy Heimerl agreed that the quality of the 800 MHz radio system is exceptional, and it will allow emergency personnel to communicate with other agencies around the area.
Carlson said when the 800 MHz radios for McLeod County are purchased, they will all be configured the same way so that all law enforcement, fire departments, other emergency personnel will be able to easily communicate with one another.