Emergency Communications System Upgrade Information

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The independent study clearly outlined the need for an updated emergency communication system  

Public Safety is a primary responsibility of local government and as such, it is an obligation of local government to provide the public infrastructure necessary to accomplish this responsibility. A year ago the Boone County Fire Chiefs met with the fiscal court to educate on the dire state of the radio communication system. The primary need for capital investment in public safety is a holistic upgrade of the Emergency Communications System. Our current system operates using technology developed before World War II. It has been a workhorse for many years; however it has a number of challenges that preclude it from meeting the current needs of the community.

  •  First and foremost, it has limitations in coverage that prevent effective communications in several areas of the county   
     creating situations where first responders are not able to communicate with dispatch.  
  • The current system does not penetrate large buildings well which makes it difficult to have consistent communication in 
     warehouses, schools and industrial structures.
  • A second significant challenge in the current system is the inability for law enforcement and fire fighters to speak to each 
    other. Like many jurisdictions, Boone County utilizes two bands, UHF and VHF, which results in law enforcement  and the fire service only being able to communicate through a dispatcher which is not effective when responding to an emergency or significant event.
  • The system is also limiting in that it acts like an old “party line” where all users have to wait their turn to talk which can be crippling when there are multiple incidents occurring at the same time. These limitations are not ideal and can be very    
    challenging for first responders.
  • The 800 MHz P25 trunked radio system is not new technology and is  been utilized in several neighboring jurisdictions including Hamilton County, Warren County, Indiana (state-wide system), Ohio (state-wide system), Lexington and Louisville.
  • Boone, Campbell & Kenton counties have bid and will award a joint system to maximize coverage, the ability to operate across borders seamlessly and to recognize significant cost savings from one system design as opposed to three independent systems.

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The Regional Steering Committee has received bids for the new system which are being evaluated NOW

Although some in the community have claimed that the county is in the early stages of planning, has not identified a vendor or identified a timeline for implementation, this is not the case. An RFP was issued in October 2016 coordinated by the Northern Kentucky Area Development District on behalf of Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties.

  • Bid responses were received on February 2, 2017.
  • Three vendors submitted bids for the project
  • Bid Evaluations, vendor presentations and selection is currently underway and scheduled to be completed and ready for award in conjunction with the funding proposal.


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The County has evaluated the Cost Proposals for the new system which are in line with the consultant’s estimates;  the proposed 911 dwelling unit fee is sufficient to fund the system

A final and complete cost will be available for the Fiscal Court prior to adopting an ordinance to fund the system. The county has the proposed pricing for each of the vendor submissions. The final price cannot yet be determined definitely; however, until the bid is awarded, final design completed and all alternatives reviewed and identified. The complexities of the system require a great deal of analysis to ensure the taxpayers receive the best possible system for the best possible price. It is clear that the projected 911 dwelling unit fee is directly in line with the pricing proposed by the vendors. 

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Staff prepared a range of options for consideration by the Court which have been reviewed and modified based on input from the public

Counties are very limited in the options available to generate revenue for local government. There are four ways that local governments can generally fund needs for its citizens:  Ad valorem (property taxes); Payroll tax, Insurance Premium tax and direct fee for services. Each of these mechanisms was evaluated and a range of options presented for consideration. These presentations offer an overview of the alternatives considered:

                 Funding Options Presentation
                 Funding Options Presentation (with audio)
                 Alternate Funding Options Presentation

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The County has worked diligently to share the system needs and funding options with the community and has developed the final option based on this input.

From presentations at the fiscal court to meeting with business and civic groups to audio presentations to website and social media, elected officials and staff have spent three months sharing information and soliciting feedback which has been used to develop the most equitable and broad-based proposal.