Albany Commission votes to allow Crisp to join 800MHz radio system

ALBANY -- The Albany City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to allow Crisp County public safety officials to link up to the city's 800 MHz communications system in a move that will defray maintenance costs for the city and promote regional communication.

The partnership will allow Crisp officials to use the 800 MHz band and the towers located in and around Albany in exchange for a fee that will help defray the city's maintenance cost on the system, Albany officials say.

Thomas County has already joined the system -- a benefit city officials say will be realized in the event of a large-scale natural disaster.

"It essentially allows us all to speak the same language," Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said. "And when there's a hurricane or tornado or flood, and people need help from all over, that really benefits a community."

The city owns the hardware and has the maintenance contract to keep the system, which Smith said costs about $100,000 per year, running. But the more municipalities that join up, the more those costs are defrayed.

"We don't incur any additional cost as a community," Deputy Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Vaught said. "Part of the condition of joining our hub is that the communities that are interested must pay the cost."

Vaught said that Albany is one of two communications hubs in South Georgia, with Lowndes County being the other.

Albany's center can take on between two and four more communities before being maxed to capacity, he said.