Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Burchett seeks Feb. 18 radio vote

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett wants the E-911 Board to vote by the end of the month on a multimillion dollar contract to replace its emergency broadcasting system.

In a LETTER to the board’s attorney, Burchett says officials should forego a Feb. 18 workshop to talk about rebidding the system and instead hire Harris Communications - the company that received the highest marks during the initial bidding process.

The letter was sent to Don Howell Wednesday afternoon.

“Because it is unclear whether there is a duly appointed chairperson, I’m asking for your guidance, as the board’s legal (counsel), as to the best way to proceed in calling for a special meeting at the time already reserved for the workshop,” the mayor wrote.

At issue is the board's proposal to replace the current emergency broadcasting analog radio system with a 20-channel digital one that would also meet a number of federal recommendations such as allowing multiple responding agencies, such as police, fire and medical, to communicate amongst themselves.

Only three companies – Harris Communications, Tait Communications, and Motorola Solutions, which has served the E-911 Center for more than 25 years – submitted proposals during last year's bidding process.

Harris scored the highest in each of the two rounds of scoring, according to records. Officials then ironed out a 7-year, $9 million contract that includes maintenance with the company.

Last month, however, the board declined to vote on the contract. Burchett’s proxy made a motion to approve it, but the motion did not receive a second. Members then agreed to hold a workshop to send the proposal back to the drawing board.

On Tuesday, Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero – also a board member who uses a proxy – each said they would attend the next E-911 meeting and force a vote.

They also wanted to have a special called meeting to do so, since the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting isn’t until mid-April.

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