Commissioners eye $11 million technology upgrade

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News12 First at Five/ Sept. 24, 2013


Augusta, Ga---Highway 56 is open again at the Richmond-Burke County line after last week's train crash. We're told it exposed some major issues in the Sheriff's department.

Some of those cars were carrying hazardous materials making communications critical. Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree says that can be tough when using outdated radios and old equipment.

"If it would have become a very hazardous situation, we couldn't go directly to them unless we issued them radios or cell phones," Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

No communication in a crisis could cost someone their life. "Those moments could be cruical for life savings resources. It's just one example that we use," said Sheriff Roundtree.

Just yesterday, Motorola officials presented a plan to commissioners for a $11 million dollar communication radio system and 26 cameras. The city already pays about half-a-million dollars per year for communications, but some leaders say an investment in an all-new system could save money in the long run.

"The funding sources are limited. it's either taxes or not doing something," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

"It's getting to the point now where our backs are against the wall. It seems they just want to raise taxes to me and that is not an option," said Commissioner Joe Jackson.

"I'd like to see where we could possibly cut. the last thing I want to do is raise taxes," said Commissioner Mary Davis.

Commissioners say they're still looking for funding, but don't want the lack of communication to end up costing a life.

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