Luzerne County Soon Could Hire Planner For 911 Upgrades

November 14, 2018

WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County may soon hire a consultant to manage the upgrade of the county 911 communication system.

MCM Consulting Group submitted the lone bid for management of the $20 million project, county 911 Executive Director Fred Rosencrans told county council Tuesday night.

The company would “get the ball rolling” and provide oversight for the project to convert the communication system from analog to digital, Rosencrans said.

That conversion must be completed by the end of 2020, when the manufacturer will stop supporting the analog system through which emergency responders and dispatchers communicate, Rosencrans has said.

The county would pay MCM Consulting Group $380,357 for its services in an “end-loaded” professional services agreement, Rosencrans said. Funding for a portion of that amount still needs to be identified, and MCM has agreed to wait until the end of next year to be paid in full, he said.

County Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck questioned spending that much strictly for planning and consulting services. She asked whether some of that work could be handled by Rosencrans and his staff.

“I know what I don’t know,” Rosencrans replied.

MCM would provide grant writing and other technical assistance, he said.

“It comes down to (if) you want this project done, you need to have a planner,” said council Chairman Tim McGinley.

Rosencrans said he continues to seek grants and other funding sources for the project, but has had little success thus far.

“Every time we put in for a grant the door is slammed on us,” he said, adding that “any little bit” would help.

Council could vote on the proposed 911 consulting contract as soon as its next meeting, on Nov. 27.

Also on Tuesday, council held a budget work session devoted to the county division of operational services, which includes county 911 as well as the planning and zoning office, the road and bridge department and the emergency management agency.

The busy operational services division will be even busier next year, department heads told council.

In some cases that means they will need more money to function, according to the division’s proposed budget.

The road and bridge department will need an increase of $25,000 over this year for road maintenance and repairs, and an increase of $30,000 for repair and maintenance of vehicles, the budget projects.

The department continues to be understaffed, with just eight equipment operators, said Edmund O’Neill, county director of operational services.

Councilman Robert Schnee praised road and bridge crews for the great job they do despite lack of manpower.

Council is holding a series of budget work sessions and public hearings this fall, prior to the scheduled adoption of the county’s final 2019 budget at council’s Dec. 11 meeting.

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