Lee E911 board supports $7.5M radio upgrade

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Lee County E911 Board of Commissioners voted last week to recommend a $7.5 million communications radio system to the county Board of Supervisors.
Choosing between two different options, the board voted for a system made by Motorola, which costs about $150,000 more than a Motorola system that used another company’s radios.
Lee County Administrator Sean Thompson said he supported the more expensive option because a single company responsible for the entire system would ensure more accountability related to any future repairs.
“We’ve had a 20-year track record with using a Motorola system,” Thompson said.
The current system, identified as “obsolete” by county and local emergency management professionals, has lasted since local 911 service began in the early 1990s.
Last week, Lee County supervisors authorized intentions to pay for the radio upgrade, which will involve a modest tax increase of 1.5 mills or less.
For most people living in a house valued at $100,000, the tax would cost a maximum of $15 annually.
The upgraded radio system will cover all of Lee County, which the current one doesn’t. It will also allow local law enforcement and emergency management to communicate with state counterparts.
While Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson, one of seven members on the commission, was the only nay vote against the recommendation, he said the upgrade is needed.
“I supported the less expensive option,” Johnson said.
Lee County supervisors will likely decide whether to accept the recommendation at the group’s May 6 meeting.
Scott Montana, area sales manager with Motorola, said the system would take between six months to a year to construct.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com