Bidding restart sought for Rockdale 911 upgrade

CONYERS -- The $4.5 million upgrade for Rockdale County's 911 communications system is heading back to the county Board of Commissioners after a recommendation to move forward from the SPLOST Citizens Oversight Committee.

The SPLOST committee approved a resolution unanimously during its November meeting Tuesday night that recommends restarting the bidding process for the upgrade.

The vote, which is only a recommendation to elected officials, followed the county's decision in October to drop the initial bidding process when several residents questioned the quality of the bid as written. County resident Steve Macke said the bid favored only one company, Motorola, and would not provide complete radio coverage.

Macke, who is a consultant in public safety communications, is also a former Motorola employee.

County officials said at the time of withdrawing the bidding process that the proposal needed more research. The upgrade is part of the $75 million SPLOST program that was approved by voters last year.

Bill Hughey, chairman of the Fire Services/911 subcommittee, said the resolution sought to be more specific while not micromanaging the requests for proposal, or RFP, in the bidding process.

"What we did specifically was to put it in the hands of the Board of Commissioners to do the best available option and there are different ways they can go about doing it. So now, it's in their hands," he said.

Hughey noted the resolution includes the need for two new radio towers to complement the existing radio towers on Smyrna and Farmer roads. Hughey said the towers were not included in the original bid process by the county, and the SPLOST committee recommended they should be.

"That would have come out of the bid process because the requirements in the bid process were that they have a 95 percent reception rate within a quarter mile area," Hughey said. "You can't do that or check that until you get your system up and running. The only way they could do that based on the output of the two existing towers was to add two towers."

Hughey said the towers were recommended based on a computer study performed by the subcommittee. The resolution also includes installing repeaters at the county jail and Rockdale Medical Center to allow radio signals to reach dead areas.

In other news, the SPLOST committee announced monthly sales tax collections have been above projections since the program begin in April. Fred Straub, chairman of the finance subcommittee, said the county SPLOST program has enough funds raised to cover the level 1 projects, such as the jail improvements and public safety, and the first year debt service costs.

The Rockdale County SPLOST program collected $1.157 million in September, or $116,600 over the monthly $1.041 million estimate for tax revenue collections. Overall, the SPLOST program has collected $6.942 million since sales tax revenue collections began in April.