Police, fire upgrading radios
The Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen handled a variety of matters in its regular meeting Tuesday, including final approval for a new radio system for the police and fire departments.
The board had last month agreed to the purchase proposed by Police Chief Jimmy McCloud and Fire Chief Tim Taylor, but the two told aldermen this week a better financing deal had been found.
Motorola had proposed to finance the lease purchase of $616,846 at 4.09 percent over three years, but when City Hall asked area banks to submit quotes, BancorpSouth agreed to finance the total for 3.35 percent – a considerable savings on the large amount of money.
Both chiefs said they have worked out a plan to pay the notes from their existing budgets with the police department paying about 60 percent.
The benefits will be potentially life-saving both Taylor and McCloud said. Both departments have struggled to overcome communication problems during emergencies, sometimes resorting to dispatchers calling on cell phones to relay messages between officers from each department.
The major improvement, though, will be the new equipment’s ability to work with MSWIN- the Mississippi Wireless Information Network, that allows law enforcement and other emergency operations personnel to switch off locally used channels onto a channel that connects all the departments.
“Simple communication has been a real problem for a long time,” McCloud said. “This takes care of that problem for good we hope.”
The Panola County Sheriff’s Department and the Emergency Operations office has updated radios, and the addition of the new equipment in Batesville will only help ensure officers can serve and protect all of the county more efficiently.
Under the agreed upon order, the police department will get 46 portables, 31 mobile radios, and four control stations.
The fire department is set to get 40 portables and upgrades to some of its existing radios.
Installation and programming will be about $18,000 according to the quote. Additionally, the police department building will need extensive electrical upgrades, a matter that had been addressed last year by the board and provided for in the current budget.
Because technology has increased so much since that building was constructed, it has become outdated electrically due to the increasing amounts of equipment installed over the years.
The Motorola plan and price also includes dispatcher equipment, training, and model upgrades during the three-year lease purchase.
In other board meeting news, council members adopted an ordinance for increased water connection and usage rates. The Panolian will publish a detailed chart of those increases in Tuesday’s edition.
Board members also discussed the city’s employee insurance plan with local agent Brad Clark, who offered a couple of options for health care.
After some discussion the board decided to leave the coverage plan unchanged. Clark had told the board there are no scheduled premium increases or changes in coverage currently offered under the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan.
Board members also heard from the fire chief that two employees will soon be leaving the department – one to work in Southaven and the other Olive Branch.
“It just a matter of money,” he said. “Those departments are paying about $9,000 more a year with more benefits.”