Public safety software for Macon-Bibb on hold [The Macon Telegraph]
(Macon Telegraph (GA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 03--The Technology Committee of the task force working on Macon-Bibb County consolidation backed away Thursday from buying a big package of public-safety software after hearing that current Bibb County commissioners want to defer the purchase until after the new government's Jan. 1 start date.
The recommended choice for the software to be used by law enforcement, firefighters and other emergency workers is from New World Systems, which earlier provided a general administration software package.
"A couple of meetings back," Bibb County elected officials decided to put off paying for the public safety software since they had no designated source of funding for it, Sheriff David Davis said. Though County Commission Chairman Sam Hart and Commissioner Lonzy Edwards are members of the task force's Technology Committee, neither was present Thursday.
Davis said he had some doubt about whether the full range of functions New World offers would be needed at the start, and he said some cheaper upgrades could be done to existing computer-aided dispatch systems.
As the sheriff's office has worked on merging with the Macon Police Department, the sheriff's office has discovered many more urgent needs, including a $1.5 million disparity in pay, he said.
"To my view, it's not a prudent use of the limited funds that we have to deal with this right now until we've dealt with some of the other issues," Davis said.
New World offers a great product, which he'd love to have when the government can afford it, Davis said, but his first budget request to the Macon-Bibb commission will be for more pressing needs.
Consultant Pat Savage said initial bids for the public safety system ranged from $4.8 million to $7 million. Once New World was recommended, the price for essential systems was negotiated down to $1.9 million up front, with maintenance fees over the next few years for a total of $3 million, he said.
Mayor Robert Reichert asked public safety department heads to figure the differences in cost and function between New World and a basic upgrade of current systems.
Reichert wanted emergency heads on difference keeping current systems and new.
"I'm trying to figure out what the impact is to the citizens of this county from a public-safety standpoint," he said.
Technology Committee Chairman Jeffery Monroe asked Savage to get prices for a stripped-down computer-aided dispatch system from New World. Savage agreed but warned that if the group chooses fewer functions, previously unsuccessful bidders may come back to say they can provide a basic system more cheaply.
When those analyses come back at the committee's Oct. 21 meeting, Reichert said, he hopes Hart and Edwards are on hand to hear the results.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.
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