Lee County Commission to vote on radio system

LEESBURG — The Lee County Commission is holding a special called meeting this morning to take action needed to move forward with the installation of a countywide 800-megahertz emergency radio system.

The commission tabled three matters associated with the system — a memorandum of understanding with the city of Albany, an agreement with Motorola to provide and install necessary equipment and the construction of a cell tower on county-owned land — at its Dec. 13 meeting because Albany officials had some concerns with the language of the memorandum, which would allow Lee County to link with the communication tower owned by the city.

County Administrator Tony Massey met with Albany officials prior to last week’s county commission meeting to discuss those concerns, and the leaders apparently came to an understanding.

“It was a very positive meeting,” Massey said. “I think we settled the issue to everyone’s satisfaction.”

Albany City Manager James Taylor said Tuesday morning that the memorandum was on the city’s agenda and that he expected it to pass.

“I’m not clairvoyant, so I can’t say for a certainty (that the Albany City Commission will approve the memorandum),” Taylor said. “But I don’t see any problem with this issue. The expectation is that it will pass.”

The enhanced — and narrower band width — radio system will meet two immediate needs in the county. It will provide emergency personnel with more dependable communication capability, and it meets a federally mandated order for counties to narrow emergency radio system band width by Jan. 1, 2013 or face fines.

The Lee board is also expected to discuss the approval it gave to an almost $46,000 request from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office for an updated security system at the county jail. The commission approved the request despite Commissioners Bill Williams’ and Rick Muggridge’s contention that LSO had asked for $8,000 in its budget for the surveillance upgrade.

Chief Deputy Lewis Harris challenged that contention, saying he’d actually sought $60,000 for the upgrade.

Lee Sheriff Reggie Rachals, meanwhile, said Monday he’s been approached by other vendors in the wake of the commission’s vote who have indicated they could install a security system at a much lower price. He said he’s investigating the claims.

“First of all, I’m very pleased that the commission saw the need for an improved security system at the jail,” he said. “And since other vendors have contacted me claiming that the bid we received was very high, I’m looking at what they’re offering.

“I do want to give other vendors a chance, but I also want to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples. I’ve already talked to one vendor whose proposal was for a lot less money, but he wasn’t offering the same type system. We want to make sure we get the best price, but security at the jail is very important. It’s something we’ve needed for a while now.”

Lee County Clerk Christi Dockery indicated Monday that, according to Lee County Attorney Jimmy Skipper, the county is not bound by its approval of Safe Security Inc.’s $45,852 bid until the commission approves minutes from the meeting.

Dockery also noted that the county’s latest audit findings, presented at the Dec. 13 meeting by Geer & Associates, are now online at www.lee.ga.us along with the county’s last two fiscal year budgets. The website also contains a 2012 meeting schedule for the commission, which is set to meet the second and fourth Tuesdays each month at 6 p.m. The board meets only on the second Tuesdays in November and December.

Dockery said county offices would be closed Friday and Monday for the Christmas holiday and would close Jan. 2 for the New Year’s holiday. Public safety personnel will be on the job throughout the holidays, she added.