Funding For Communications Upgrade Being Explored

The town is exploring several funding options in order to pay for a communications upgrade for Police, Fire and Public Works.

The estimated $4,200,000 is a lot to ask from taxpayers, Councilors have agreed in previous meetings. Recognizing the need, they have looked at bonding, leasing and phasing it in. In the Dec. 19 Town Council meeting, they discussed other options with Town Manager Kevin Smith and Fire Chief Darren O’Brien, whose department has been heading up the project.

The discussion focused on removing some deferrable items from the budget and funding others with a 75/25 ratio, taking some of the Unassigned Fund Balance that was going to those projects and funneling it into the communications infrastructure instead.

Funds for sewer expansion and the sidewalk at Moose Hill were removed, while Roadway Maintenance, Capital Reserve for Fire Equipment, Capital Reserve for GIS, Expendable Maintenance Trust Fund and Capital Reserve for Pillsbury Cemetery Expansion could reduce the amount they were taking from the UFB, raising more by taxation and leaving enough money in the UFB to fund the communications infrastructure.

The original cost of fully funding these projects and several others through the UFB was estimated at $1,842,000 The allowable usage for Londonderry’s UFB is $2,339,240, leaving a balance of $497,240. With Smith’s 75/25 plan, the amount for these projects drawn from the UFB would be $841,500, leaving $1,497,740 in the fund. Smith said $1 million of that could be used for the infrastructure.

“It is possible to do that,” Smith told the board.

The change in proportions would require $162,500 to be raised through taxation for Roadway Maintenance, with $487,500 from the UFB; $41,000, taxation, fire equipment, $123,000, UFB; $7,000, taxation, GIS, $21,000, UFB; $45,000, taxation, Expendable Maintenance Trust Fund, $135,000, UFB; and $25,000, taxation, Pillsbury Cemetery, $75,000 from UFB.

The upgrade is needed because several areas of town experience “dead spots” for emergency communication, and also because some departments, notably Public Works, are using equipment that is outdated and may no longer be supported.

Board members have expressed concern that only one price quote was obtained, from the Motorola Company. “This is still a lot of money,” board member Jim Butler said. “You had only one quote from one dealer — that does not sit well with  me.”

But Motorola holds the service contracts for most of Southern New Hampshire, O’Brien said.

Representatives of the three departments along with Smith were scheduled to meet with a Motorola rep on Tuesday.

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