Bond issue of $10.5 million slated for radio system
Oct. 3, 2002
The Anoka County (Minn.) Board has approved a $10.5 million bond issue to upgrade the county’s public safety communications system.
The county received authority from the 2002 Minnesota Legislature to issue up to $12.5 million in bonds to replace the current system.
The county board will award the bonds at its Oct. 22 meeting. They will carry an interest rate of 3.714 percent.
According to Terry Johnson, Anoka County division manager for finance and central services, the bond issue will be split into two.
A 10-year, $7.310 million bond will pay for the infrastructure improvements to the system, including the construction of two new towers to supplement the existing six towers and expand the coverage of the system to the northeast part of the county, as well as the purchase of new transmitters and receivers, Johnson said.
The second part of the bond issue, totaling $3.190 million over five years, will pay for the radios that will be purchased to equip the police and fire departments in the county. Replacement radios will be the responsibility of the individual communities.
The shelf life for the radios will be a lot less than the infrastructure improvements, which is why the bond is for the shorter period of time, Johnson said.
“We like to pay off the debt on the bonds before the equipment wears out,” he said.
Closing on the bond issue will take place in November, at which time the money will become available, Johnson said.
Plans are to make the infrastructure improvements in 2003 and have the new system up and running in 2004, he said.
“We are on a fast track,” Johnson said.
In addition, the county hopes to purchase the radios and other equipment before Aug. 1, 2003 to take advantage of a state law that exempts such purchases from the state 6 1/2 percent sales tax, he said. The law sunsets Aug. 1, 2003, Johnson said.
In addition to approving the bond issue, the county board has also entered into a contract with Geo-Comm Corporation of St. Cloud for engineering consulting services for the radio system project.
The contract cost will not exceed $52,500 and will end June 30, 2002.
The county’s new 800 megahertz system is being designed in conjunction with the Metropolitan Radio Board’s plans for a new metrowide and ultimately a statewide public safety radio system.
The Metropolitan Radio Board is expected to contribute $2.14 million to Anoka County’s project, according to Johnson.
The radio board, of which Anoka County Commissioner Dave McCauley is chairman, will design the system upgrade for the county.
Under its contract with the county, Geo-Comm will work on detailed designs for the system, make sure the Metropolitan Radio Board plan addresses the county’s specific needs, and assist with contract negotiations with vendors.
The purpose of the upgrade of the county’s public safety radio system, which was installed in 1970, is to achieve more consistent county coverage and a more integrated communications system between various public agencies in the county.
It will be paid for by a countywide property tax, which will appear for the first time as a specific line item on the 2003 tax bills.
For 2003, the levy has been set at $1.34 million. That translates into a tax of about $1 a month on a property valued at $150,000 in the county, according to County Administrator Jay McLinden.
The reason for the countywide tax is the project is designed to enhance the public safety for all of Anoka County, said County Commissioner Paul McCarron, chairman of the county board’s Public Safety Committee.
“The project is a collaboration between the county and the cities and townships,” McCarron said.
This is likely the single most expensive project that the county has undertaken, but it meets a critical need, according to County Commissioner Jim Kordiak.
“The safety, security and protection of Anoka County citizens is imperative,” said County Board Chairman Dan Erhart.
A joint powers agreement for the project between the county and its cities and townships was approved by the county board earlier.
Anoka County Attorney Robert M.A. Johnson, chairman of the Anoka County Joint Law Enforcement Council, has been presenting the joint powers agreement to individual city councils and township boards for their approval.
He plans to have all the approvals in place by the Oct. 22 meeting of the county board, Johnson said.
(Copyright © 2002 ECM Publishers, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Republished with permission from the publisher.)