Carbon County officials rejected the sole bid for a major upgrade project at the 911 Communications Center in Nesquehoning.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to reject the $215,830.87 bid from TuWay Communications in Bethlehem for the Tech Refresh Update/911 project.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said the reason for the board rejecting the bid was because they thought it was too high.

He noted that the county initially thought the project should cost around $160,000, which is $55,000 lower than the actual bid the county received.

O'Gurek said they were instructed that the best thing to do would be to reject the bid and readvertise.

"We're going to readvertise in the hopes of getting a lower bid or getting more competition to drive down the cost," he said. "We're going to have to see what happens."

The county decided to do the upgrade to the 911 system after entering into a $147,000 maintenance agreement with TuWay in December 2010.

O'Gurek said TuWay told them that the equipment, which was installed in 2005 and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, was not eligible for factory support because it was over five years old. It also would not support software upgrades.

The plan for the project is to replace the outdated equipment with newer models. The hurdle that the county faces is that the equipment they purchase from one company must then be configured with the software from PlantCML in California which is the current dispatching software the county uses and then another company would integrate everything into the current 911 system. All of this needs to be done with as little down time to the county's 911 system as possible.

O'Gurek said that the county is disappointed by the lack of competition in this project, but said they will try again.

"We're either going to get a bid that we can live with or think about not doing that job," he said. "I don;t know that we want to that. We always prided ourselves in having a great facility up there and this is an attempt to keep it that way and make it better."

The project will be funded by Acts 56 and 78. The funds come from user fees that all cell phone and landline users are required to pay monthly in their bills. The money from these fees is then allocated for projects such as this, which will keep counties up-to-date in communications equipment and services for emergency situations.

One of the things the county plans to look at as it waits to see if more bids are received this time around is the maintenance contract with TuWay, which has been a very reliable company for the county.

O'Gurek noted that there may be some components, such as immediate emergency support, that may be able to be taken out of the contract.

Carbon County has been continually upgrading various parts of the communications center to make sure that dispatchers have the most up-to-date technology to best serve the callers.