PI awards radio service provider bid

ROGERS CITY – Presque Isle County will spend $175 per month on a service plan for its emergency dispatch radios and equipment, and will consider adopting a more expensive plan.

County commissioners voted unanimously Friday to approve a service plan with Holland-based Tele-Rad Inc. The monthly fee covers travel expenses for any technician coming from the company’s Traverse City office, and an annual preventative maintenance check of infrastructure equipment. Presque Isle County Sheriff Robert Paschke will look into a more comprehensive and costly plan and report his findings in early 2014.

Commissioners discussed whether a plan costing $722 per month would serve the county better. It would cover the cost of travel, plus labor and parts up to replacing the radio consoles the sheriff’s department uses if they can’t be repaired. Without a service plan, these could cost considerably more to replace if they failed.

“The worst-case scenario is, a console goes down and we’d have to replace it,” Paschke said. “It could cost $20,000 to replace a console.”

Presque Isle County’s radio equipment had been covered by a service plan with an Alpena-based equipment dealer and servicer, Commissioner Robert Schell said. However, that business has since dissolved, and the one replacing it won’t service equipment. So Paschke sought bids for new plans for the items and services he wanted covered.

The county received responses from Tele-Rad and another servicer in Traverse City called Northern Radio. The latter’s bid was slightly higher than $9,800 per year, more than $1,000 higher than Tele-Rad’s bid for the more comprehensive coverage plan. Commissioners looked at the differences between the two plans, which Paschke said were very similar, but ultimately opted for Tele-Rad’s cheaper option.

“If we were to take a chance on this … for $175 per month, which gives them their travel money, and take a chance that we don’t have anything break down, we could save the county money,” Commissioner Mike Darga said.

Commissioners wanted to know more about Tele-Rad’s more inclusive plan, including how service calls after hours, on weekends and on holidays would be handled and billed. Paschke told them he’d ask the company’s representative and give them more information.

“There seemed to be too many questions yet on the cost associated with the bigger service agreement,” commissioner board Chairman Carl Altman said after the meeting.

In other business:

* commissioners approved per diem, mileage and travel expense rates for 2014, unchanged from the year before. County officials will get $80 for a full day, $40 for a half day, and those traveling on county business will be reimbursed up to $125 per night for lodging, 50 cents per mile, up to $7.50 for breakfast, $12.50 maximum for lunch and $20 maximum for dinner. Commissioner Steve Lang said the county may make an exception for lodging if a county official has to pay more to stay at a hotel hosting a conference.

* Gary Nowak will serve another three-year term starting April 1 on the Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Authority. Commissioners appointed him over nominee Lester Buza, with Darga and Lang voting for Buza.

* commissioners authorized County Clerk Ann Marie Main to pay monthly invoices, and tweaked how certain payments for services were handled and classified, including inspections and service calls for the county building’s elevator.

* commissioners will meet Thursday at 9:30 a.m. for their organizational meeting, then on Jan. 15 for their regular meeting.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.