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County goes back to bidding for radios

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

Denton County officials will start over in seeking bids for a new radio system for the Sheriff’s Office after concerns were raised about recent procedures.

This time around, the committee in charge of recommending the company that will earn the county’s bid will include additional personnel from the county and representatives from area cities to have more diverse input in the process.

“I think it’s a good idea that we have given [a thought] to the concerns I expressed before Christmas — that we need more than an ad hoc committee because of the large difference in price,” Commissioner Hugh Coleman said. “We needed to widen the committee and take it out for bidding. It makes us good stewards of taxpayers’ money.”

The committee had been prepared to recommend hiring a company for the radio system in late December but the item was pulled from the Commissioners Court agenda.

The expanded committee will include a representative from the county’s information technology department and officials from Lewisville, Corinth, Denton and Ponder. The previous committee included members of the Sheriff’s Office and the purchasing department.

The new procurement method will be through a cooperative contract with the Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments, which has already gone through a process that meets the state requirements for competitive bidding for a radio system. The Houston-Galveston council has prequalified bidders that can now make presentations and bids to Denton County.

Commissioner Andy Eads said the previous local committee had solicited three budgetary estimates from three Houston-Galveston council providers and performed a technical analysis and cost comparison. The committee conducted a comprehensive analysis of the fiscal, operational and functional impact on immediate and future needs of the county.

“It was important to me and other members of the court that we expand the committee, which we did today, and it will continue the process and the companies will be able to meet with the committee and present their proposals,” Eads said. “The committee will conduct another comprehensive evaluation and rank the firms based on best-value analysis and bring a recommendation to Commissioners Court.”

During the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, a number of representatives from companies that provide radio services implored county officials to seek a request for proposals.

Among them was Larry Miller, area sales manager for Stolz Telecom, who said the county should give the companies a chance “to show their wares, demonstrate their equipment and prove without a doubt they would be the company [best] to support the county in their communication needs.”

Alfonso Hamilton, regional director with Cassidian Communications out of Richardson, noted that counties in Florida and Virginia paid more by not doing a competitive bidding process.

“You pay a higher price and run the risk of inoperability with other systems,” he said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to restart the process and expand the recommendation committee.

“This is a significant expense and it deals with our residents’ life-safety. We have to get it right,” Eads said. “As a son of a firefighter of 32 years, I know the importance of a reliable public safety radio system.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.