FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners have agreed to let the county’s communications director get a price on a new dispatch console that will factor in cash payment.

Communications Director Stan Wheeler asked commissioners to revisit the issue of getting a new dispatch console for the regional communications center. The console manages radio communications.

Commissioners postponed buying a new console in September 2015 after concerns were raised that the new console was not in the current stage of a five-year plan and it did not go before the Budget Advisory Committee. At the time, Wheeler told commissioners he had an opportunity to buy a new console with four positions for $140,000 with 100 percent financing over a five-year period. 

Replacing the 12-year-old console is part of a five-year plan developed to improve emergency radio communications countywide.

The Budget Committee removed $17,550 this past spring from Wheeler’s proposed 2016-17 budget that was slated for half a down payment on a lease/purchase agreement for a new console. The other half of the payment would have come from the county’s unorganized territory’s tax-increment financing fund.

About $17,000 was carried over from Wheeler’s budget to the undesignated fund at the end of June for possible use for a console.

A comprehensive study revealed in 2015 that the county “does not have a solid and stable backbone for its communications system.”  

Initially, some members of the county’s Dispatch Advisory Board disagreed with Wheeler’s decision to buy a new console. The board took a vote recently with the majority of members in favor of buying one, Wheeler said Tuesday.

It is a good time to get a new console because of end-of-year sales, he said.

There is some discussion on zero percent interest compared to the 3½ percent that was discussed earlier but has not been finalized.

The cost of a console is now at $185,000 to $190,000 for a custom-built one. That does not include interest on a lease or installation, Wheeler said. The cost of a console increases 7 percent each year.

Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington said he might support the purchase if Wheeler could get a good deal by paying cash for the console. He was not against putting it in 2017-18 budget.

As of June 30, the county had about $1 million that is unassigned in the fund balance. 

Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay said a new console should have been purchased three years ago. 

“Let’s do it and do it all,” he said. “You shouldn’t allow the Budget Committee to tell you what to do with those (undesignated) funds,” McGrane said. He also said that half the money could come from TIF funds.

Commissioner Chairman Clyde Barker of Strong said he favors getting a new console.

“I am worried about people up north” since they don’t have good communication there, he said. 

Barker represents District 3, which includes northern Franklin County.

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