Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

June 11, 2013

Radio issue continues to stall

Bill Grimes Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — An Effingham County Board committee tabled Monday a proposal to buy new radios for the sheriff’s department.

Board Chairman Jim Niemann, who also chairs the Legislative Committee of the Whole that met Monday, said Motorola was offering to buy back some of the department’s existing radios — a move that Niemann said would save the county about $75,000. But the chairman added that Motorola was only offering the buyback plan until June 30.

Niemann said the radio deals range in price from $140,000 to $240,000. Motorola representative Dave Lander told the committee that the county should consider an option that would enable deputies to speak on either the current 800 megahertz system or STARCOM, a Motorola system used by both the Illinois State Police and Effingham Police Department.

Lander said the county could buy the radios on a lease-purchase arrangement over a seven-year period.

Sheriff’s deputies have been complaining about being unable to communicate with police from other agencies, even though a radio “bridge” was developed several months ago. Board member Rob Arnold said his top priority was getting rid of the bridge.

“I just want this bridge to go away,” Arnold said.

But board member David Campbell said the county had been trying to delay new radios until after the Government Center courts building is paid off in the next several years.

“I think we’re trying to push this (radio purchase) down the road as much as we can,” Campbell said.

Chief Deputy John Loy suggested installing repeaters in each squad car and use portables to communicate with state and city police. Loy added that goverment grants could ultimately enable the department to bolster its system even further.

“We can use grant money to buy mobiles and repeaters down the road,” Loy said.

Niemann suggested the committee table the issue. The full board can still consider the issue at its June 17 meeting without a committee recommendation.

In action taken Monday, the committee agreed to recommend a variety of items to the full board, including:

• Moving the polling place for Douglas Township precincts 8 and 9 from Sacred Heart Catholic Church to Effingham County Health Deparment following concerns of student safety due to increased traffic. Health Department Administrator Kim Esker said she would close the building on Election Day to accommodate election workers and voters.

• Discontinuing board member participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund program and increasing the hourly standard for current participants from 600 to 1,000 hours. County Clerk Kerry Hirtzel said the change would enable retirees to work 19 hours a week without penalty.

• Raising the fee for private sewage disposal system inspection from $50 to $100.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.