From the Salina Journal

Saline County and the city of Salina are choosing Motorola to provide a new radio communications system for law enforcement and first responders in the county.

The Saline County Board of Commissioners and Salina City Commission met in joint session Tuesday at the Visit Salina Annex of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss the selection after staff from both the city and county, in addition to TUSA Consulting Services, negotiated last month with Motorola and L3Harris, another communications company that also submitted a bid for the project.

Saline County Deputy Administrator Hannah Stambaugh led the team in negotiations and said the systems put forth by the two companies were “extremely comparable” systems as far the technical aspects were concerned.

“We probably have the most apples-to-apples comparison between the two vendors than we could possibly have at the end of our negotiations,” Stambaugh said.

Because of the close technical comparison, Stambaugh said the recommendation to go with Motorola came down mainly to the cost of the system and the amount of time it would take to implement it.

A bid of $14.7 million with the ability to change over completely to the new system in 18 months for Motorola beat out the L3Harris bid of $16.4 million that would take 24 months to fully implement.

The Motorola system would also be joining the Kansas Statewide Interoperable Communication System (KSICS).

“Our recommendation is to enter into contract negotiations with Motorola for an 800 (MHz) system that is join with the state’s KSICS system,” Stambaugh said.

After hearing from Stambaugh and Alan Talkington, a senior consultant with TUSA, commissioners asked questions and made comments about the project.

Admitting he wasn’t an expert on much of the technical aspects of the project, Salina City Commissioner Trent Davis said he was confident with the recommendation brought to the commissions.

“I don’t have a reason to challenge your recommendation at this point,” Davis said. “It sounds logical to me.”

Another proposal was submitted by L3Harris, but the written proposal was not technically compliant with what the city and county asked for as far as coverage in the county, so it wasn’t considered. A program manager from L3Harris, Wiley Baxter, was at the meeting Tuesday and explained that in oral presentations the company did offer a coverage guarantee with the proposal that wasn’t considered. Talkington said the city and county only based their findings and negotiations on what was in the written proposals, and since the alternative from L3Harris was not compliant, it was not considered.

“We made it very clear that the proposals written were what we were grading off of,” Talkington said.

He said the companies were not allowed to make changes to the core elements of the written proposals and that included the coverage guarantee.

The county commission voted 3-0, with two commissioners absent, to go with the recommendation and enter into negotiations with Motorola for the project. The city commission agreed and voted 5-0 to concur with the county’s decision.

Salina Police Chief Brad Nelson was at the meeting and said he was glad the city and county were able to join together to get this update going. He said the system will benefit his department, as well as Salina Fire, the Saline County Sheriff’s Office, county rural fire districts and emergency management.

“I think it’s a win-win for the whole community,” Nelson said. “The fact that we can work together (as city and county) is fantastic.”