Council OKs deal to buy police radio equipment

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council last week approved a $100,000 deal for new police radio equipment. Complete Wireless Solutions offered Kenwood dual band radios, including 20 portable units that can be carried by officers and nine mobile units used in patrol cars. The price, $99,516.55, includes installation.

Day Wireless offered Motorola equipment for $114,410.80. The department sought quotes for Motorola, Kenwood and Harris equipment. Harris did not respond.

The city set aside $100,000 for radio replacement in its 2018-19 budget.

“The department’s mobile radios are currently at the end of life, and the portable radios will be at their end of life in December,” said Police Chief Jeff Lynn. “Therefore the department must begin the replacement of those products.”

Sweet Home Police Department personnel and vehicles are equipped with Motorola equipment purchased in 2006, Lynn said. Production of those models ended in 2013, but Motorola continued supporting, with repair and parts, for five years, ending support for the mobile units in December and portable units at the end of 2019.

A Kenwood representative told city officials the company would continue to support these models for 10 years after Kenwood ends production of them, Lynn said. “These are the newest models out.”

Linn County Sheriff’s Office and Albany Police Department have switched their radio communications to the 700 MHz truncated system, Lynn said. There had been a mandate by the U.S. Congress to move emergency services to the 700 MHz system, but it was later rescinded and no new timeline has been established or proposed.

SHPD is currently operating on VHF, and current radios are unable to access the 700 MHz frequencies, Lynn said. “This has limited our ability to communicate with other agencies and has affected our interoperability with them.”

Modern mobile and portable radios can be configured as dual band radios, allowing access to VHF and the 700 and 800 MHz frequencies, Lynn said, and the new Kenwood radios will do that, allowing the department to interact with Linn County and Albany police.

Lebanon police and fire departments are using Kenwood products, Lynn said, and a representative of Lebanon Police Department said the department is satisfied with Kenwood products, without unacceptable downtown or malfunctions.

Present and voting to approve the purchase were Cortney Nash, Susan Coleman, Lisa Gouley, Mayor Geg Mahler, Diane Gerson, James Goble and Dave Trask.

In other business, the council:

– Approved a proposal by the city to the Sweet Home School District to reduce the district’s water rates for field irrigation to last year’s levels for a period of six months. As part of the agreement, the district will work with the city’s Park and Tree Committee and develop a plan for the savings.

The plan was previously reviewed and sent to council for consideration by the Administration, Finance and Property Committee. District officials had previously asked the committee to waive the increase in the water rate.

Mahler said it would be in the city’s best interest for the city manager to work with the School District and figure out what would work best.

“I’m really concerned about setting a precedent and somebody coming to us, wanting the same thing,” Trask said.

If the city doesn’t get results, he said, the council needs to cancel the deal, noting that all of the people in the district boundaries would receive the same benefit while they would not be paying for the added costs.

“I’m willing to go with this, but there better be results in six months,” Trask said.

Goble said he was fine with the idea, considering that the district had budgeted for one amount and then saw a large increase in its water bill – an increase of 45 percent in the rate per 100 cubic feet of water.

In the next budget, “they need to go back up to where they belong,” he said.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the proposal. Gourley said she had a conflict of interest and abstained.

– Approved a request for proposals for timber consulting purposes for trees on city property and in rights-of-way.

The city owns 387 acres of parks and facilities property and 45 miles of right-of-way, much of which has standing timber, said Public Works Director Greg Springman. “There is a need to improve the management of city-owned trees to improve public safety.”

He noted winter storms in recent years have caused several trees and large branches to fall, damaging city and private property, including vehicles and structures.

Several more trees have been identified as potentially hazardous, Springman said.

City staff also would like to efficiently recover revenue from salable timber when trees are removed, Springman said, but logging and timber sales are outside city expertise.

With a timber consultant, the city would be able to identify and mitigate hazardous trees, improving public safety and reducing insurance claims, Springman said, and the city would improve its ability to get the best price for its timber.

The consulting contract would last one year initially, with an option to extend it by another three years.

– Held the first reading of an ordinance to dissolve the Public and Traffic Safety Committee.

The committee was created in 2017 by combining the Public Safety Committee, concerned primarily with legislation, and Traffic Safety Committee, which made recommendations to the council on traffic issues.

The City Council has taken up the functions of both committees. A proposed legislative committee also may handle Public Safety Committee matters. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices governs some of the functions of the Traffic Safety Committee.

The council will hold two more readings at its next two meetings, April 23 and May 14. It may adopted the ordinance following the third reading.

– Received public comments on the proposed Wastewater Treatment Plant project and proposed City Council goals.

– Tabled a set of proposed raises for non-union employees until after Budget Committee sessions.

City Manager Ray Towry said the current schedule for non-represented employees expires on June 30.

To ensure salary ranges remain as competitive as possible, the city gathered salary information from similar cities, as well as public and private employers, to evaluate salary ranges.

The Administration, Finance and Property Committee reviewed the proposals March 26 and recommended it to the council for approval.

Under the proposed schedule, at the top step, the fifth step of the schedule, pay for a plant superintendent would increase from $5,451 to $5,701 per month; library director, $5,571 to $6,065 per month; senior engineering technician, $5,609 to $5,963 per month; Public Works director, $7,008 to $7,150 per month; city manage, $9,153 to $9,812 per month; and police chief, $7,469 to $8,186 per month.

Positions that would not change are court administrator, accounting supervisor, associate planner, administrative assistant, maintenance superintendent, community and economic development director and finance director.