New radio system in Scott County could be costly for smaller cities

RIVERDALE, Iowa-- Scott County is looking to approve the purchase of a new radio system, costing more than $8.5 million. Scott County is coordinating to bring the new system to Rock Island County as well. The new radios and towers would put all fire and police departments in the area on the same system. Scott County is prepared to foot the bill for the new towers. But what's left to be decided is who will pay for the radios.

Dave Donovan, director of the Scott County Emergency Management Agency, says the Scott County Emergency Communication Center board will vote on the purchase next week.

"The technology that we are currently using is end of life," he says.

But the system could come at a high cost, especially for smaller cities and departments.

"The cost of the updated radio system for Riverdale will be somewhere between $90,000 and $100,000," Mayor Mike Bawden says.

He says the city already sets aside $20,000-$25,000 each year for the fire department. New radios would eat away four year's worth of savings.

Yet Mayor Bawden says the new radios are crucial.

"We've seen a number of different spots around the county where you have to use more than one system to coordinate the activities of the first responders," he says.

Donovan says the county is looking at paying for the purchase with bonds and says a decision will be made soon on whether the county or cities will be responsible for the radios. He hopes construction will start later this year on new towers.

He then says a brand new system could be up and running throughout the Quad Cities by the end of 2020.

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