Carbon County municipalities should see a lower bill for new radios through the Local Share grant

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, explained that due to a lower number of radio equipment needed to comply with the Federal Communications Commission's narrowband mandate, municipalities should see more of the equipment covered under the $907,000 Local Share grant.

He noted that this lower number is due to some fire companies and other emergency services receiving grants to upgrade their radio equipment.

"At this point in time, the numbers are coming in a lot better than we initially thought," he said, noting that initial projections showed that municipalities would be responsible for around 30 percent of the total cost of the equipment they purchase. "It's going to cost emergency services and municipalities a lot less than anticipated."

Nothstein said that Gary Williams, 911 manager, met with the county's police chiefs recently to narrow down the number of radios they will need.

Once all figures are received, the county will then rework the budget for the project and resubmit it for approval.

Nothstein said the project is moving forward with municipalities approving the agreements the county provided for the equipment and grant responsibility.

Once all agreements have been approved and a new budget has been drawn up, the county will begin purchasing the equipment.

At a special commissioners' meeting on Jan. 31, Williams told the municipality representatives that the estimated timeline for the changeover has been set based on the number of radios needed.

Emergency service groups will be the first to change over, starting in May or June. Police departments will then change over between July and August and fire companies, which require the most radios, will change over in September or October.

Carbon County has been working on the narrowbanding project with area municipalities since early last year when the county commissioners decided to help ease the burden of emergency personnel by applying for a countywide grant.

The reason for the joint project was because mandate reduces the radio frequency to 12.5 kHz bandwidth to allow for more radio channels for emergencies. All municipalities and counties in the country must comply with this mandate by Jan. 1, 2013 or they could face a $10,000 a day fine.