Macon, Bibb close to replacing ailing radio system

After contentious accusations, Macon and Bibb County administrators have agreed on how to replace an ailing 800-megahertz emergency radio system.

The system could be replaced by next June with new equipment, said Dale Walker, Macon’s interim chief administrative officer. The $8 million equipment will come from Harris Corp., replacing Motorola equipment that dates to the 1996 Olympics.

“Everybody’s happy,” Walker said, before clarifying “so far.” He made the comments Tuesday night to an advisory committee for the county’s special purpose local option sales tax.

Walker said the SPLOST money will cover four consoles for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office for $280,000. City officials earlier said those costs wouldn’t be covered, leading County Commissioner Elmo Richardson to declare during budget hearings in May, “(the city) flat-out lied to us.”

Instead, city and county officials at Tuesday’s SPLOST advisory committee meeting were smiling. Walker noted several times that the agreement to buy the Harris equipment was made unanimously, including approval by the county sheriff’s office and the county’s Information Technology Department.

Committee member Theron Ussery wanted to make sure everything had been changed for the better.

“Yes sir,” replied County Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson. “We’re happy now.”

The proposed radio equipment would have two main cores, one of which would automatically switch work over to the other if it failed. Deputies, police officers, firefighters and others would get new radios that they’ve chosen. Walker said those kinds of radios have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The proposal to buy the Harris equipment will soon be presented to Macon City Council for approval, Walker said.

In other business, SPLOST advisory committee members heard that requests for animal shelter designers and recreation planners could be advertised as early as Sunday, with companies making presentations in early August. Bibb County has already had a groundbreaking for Fire Station 109, which will be built with SPLOST money, and has used money to buy properties near Robins Air Force Base.

Bibb County also used SPLOST money for economic development to ready a site and buy property for a Tractor Supply Co. distribution center.

Macon already has bought nine police cars, which are getting prepared now. Macon has also transferred money that should restart construction of the Tubman African American Museum.