After years of discussing how to accomplish and fund it, the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted unanimously to improve the County’s public safety radio system by awarding the upgrade contract to Communications International, Inc. The vote took place during the Board’s regular meeting on June 22.
“This is not anything small,” said BOCC Chairman John Allocco. “We’ve talked about it a minimum of 25 times in the last four years.”
During the meeting, County Administrator Jeff Rogers, P.E., told the Board that under terms of the nearly $13 million upgrade contract, 98 percent of the entire county will be covered to improve shared communications for law enforcement, fire and emergency personnel that respond to emergency calls. The service upgrade also includes better service in “significant” buildings, and GPS location coverage.
The upgrade will expand the number of communications towers from three to eight including a new tower to be constructed, Rogers said.
Over the longer term, the contract includes a lifetime agreement whereby equipment will be maintained and upgraded to reflect changes in technology.
“So that the system will work as well in 12 or 13 years as it does today,” Rogers said.
Funding for the contract’s nearly $13 million contract will be derived in part from revenue awarded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The Act allocated $150 billion in funds to state governments. In June 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that $1.275 billion in CARES funds would be disbursed to counties that have populations below 500,000.
“There have been so many years that we have had no money, we had no money then the pandemic hit,” Commissioner Jeff Holcomb said. “It’s weird, but we have to take advantage of this.”
Finally as contract work begins, Information Technology Director Matthew Balogh from the Hernando Sheriff’s Office will work with a consultant, to ensure that the upgraded system works for those who will use it.