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Mayors set deadline for Johns Creek on radios
by Angela Spencer
December 26, 2012 10:17 AM | 3504 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In response to the outdated emergency radio system Fulton County is having to overhaul, north Fulton cities have decided to create their own system, and they have to move quickly to take advantage of deals on the equipment available through the end of the year.

Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos and City Manager John McDonough shared with the mayors of Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek and Roswell that Sandy Springs council passed a resolution to go ahead and order the equipment because of the tight deadline.

“The Motorola people are offering us major discounts if we buy before the end of the year,” Galambos said. “It has become a very important issue right now … We would hope everyone else would get in on the same page in terms of approving this early order.”

All of the north Fulton cities have already signed the intergovernmental agreement except for Johns Creek. Mayor Mike Bodker said the decision is slated for the first Johns Creek council meeting in January, and he said he couldn’t say if they would pass it.

The earlier draft presented to the council earlier in December was met with some pushback from council and the city manager.

McDonough said the end-of-the-year discount could only be taken advantage of if the order is placed before Jan. 1.

This is considered “phase one” of a two-phase purchase with Motorola. This first portion would acquire about $5.12 million worth of equipment.

“What that does for us is it locks in the pricing for all of us in a two-phased approach rather than having to do it all at one time,” McDonough said.

As of Thursday morning, Sandy Springs had not signed the contract with Motorola as it was still in draft form.

At that time, Galambos and McDonough asked for the other cities to have their attorneys review for legal review and concurrence for the contact before Dec. 24.

The remaining cities will not be able to actually sign the contract to share the cost of the purchase until January, at which time they will have both phase one and phase two contracts for approval.

If Johns Creek decides not to sign the IGA their cost will be distributed to the other cities. The overall cost would fluctuate as well factoring out the equipment Johns Creek would have used.

“We would adjust the equipment list up or down depending on Johns Creek,” McDonough said.

The mayors set a Jan. 18 deadline for Johns Creek to approve the IGA so that if they choose not to do so the other cities can approve a new IGA with adjusted numbers.
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Reality Check
December 26, 2012
What is the TRUE COST of this system? Since the cities decided against putting out an RFQ and open bid, they are essentially locking themselves into a single vendor system. Often as is the case with these proprietary digital trunked radio systems, the true cost of maintaining the system and being a subscriber adds up and becomes much more than originally promised.

Such is the case in Floyd county with their recent procurment of a digital 800MHz system, the cities are now trying to back out as they see the real cost of being a subcriber and are considering staying analog and going to narrowband or procuring their own lower cost options. This puts Floyd county in a bad position, as they now have a higher operating cost than originally anticipated.

This cost is always passed onto the taxpayer. Especially with single vendor systems such as the one being procured by the North county cities. It's like a car sale, the vendors use high pressure tactics to get you to sign on the dotted line TODAY, but you are often kept from knowing the TRUE PURCHASE PRICE, which is often much higher than originally budgeted for.

This has been the case with every 800MHz digital radio system put into service in the metro Atlanta area, and will be so long as the single source vendors call the shots and customers (our governments) refuse to shop around. Other alternatives exist to procuring a new radio system, but the parties involved chose not put out a true open bid and examine them. Instead, listening to those single source vendor, just like the high pressure car salesman, they are committed to this project at whatever cost, and aren't looking at what the numbers actually mean.
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