York County closes new 911 system purchases with major discount

David Weissman
York Dispatch

York County is still reeling financially from federally mandated upgrades to its 911 radio system, but officials were able to find major savings in closing out its contract with the company primarily responsible for those upgrades.

The upgrades became necessary when Congress ordered 911 radio systems switched to a 700 MHz frequency following a recommendation from a federal commission formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

An employee talks with a co-worker at the York County 911 Center Monday, July 31, 2017. County spokesman Mark Walters and lead training supervisor Roxie Tate talked with the media Monday, Feb. 26 regarding recent problems with the center's paging system. Bill Kalina photo

That mandate was announced just five years after the county had completed a major upgrade to its 911 radio system that placed it on T-band frequency.

The county took out an $18 million bond last year to help pay off "stranded debt" left over from paying for the system that is being replaced.

More:York County approves borrowing up to $32 million

More:Commissioners order audit of York County 911 center

The new system, which is projected to be fully implemented by December, is costing the county about $27 million, and more than $20 million of those costs are going to Florida-based Harris Corp.

County commissioners voted Wednesday, Oct. 4, to close out the county's contract with Harris Corp. by agreeing to pay about $65,000 for additional equipment that will be handed out to the county's fire and EMS officials.

Harris Corp. had originally planned to charge the county nearly $1.8 million for that equipment, according to county administrator Mark Derr.

Derr explained that the major difference in price stems from a combination of contract credits, returning equipment, forgoing certain services and contracting out for certain items and services that were included in the original price.

Additional contracts with other providers will still leave the total cost of these services "significantly" below the original $1.8 million estimate, Derr said.

Derr said back-and-forth negotiations with Harris Corp. have been long and arduous, and he's happy to be done with the deal.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.