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DeKalb City Council approves purchase of 142 police, fire radios at deep discount

April 5, 2018

DeKALB – It’s not too often that the DeKalb City Council can authorize a major purchase for police and fire departments at about a 65 percent discount.

But when a large number of high-end public safety radios manufactured by E.F. Technologies went up for grabs after a customer order was canceled, the council was able to make such a purchase during Wednesday’s special meeting.

A total of 142 dual-band portable radios, which have a retail price of $4,250 apiece, were available for the two departments at only $1,000 apiece plus accessories. The resolution authorizing the purchase was approved on a 7-0 vote. Seventh Ward Alderman Anthony Faivre was not in attendance.

Fourth Ward Alderman Patrick Fagan said the decision is not only about dollars and cents, but if the new equipment can save one life, then it’s an important consideration.

DeKalb police Cmdr. Jason Leverton said when he first found out about the opportunity, he was mindful of the old adage of “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” But after speaking with an E.F. Technologies representative and being provided with one of the radios, he was confident about the purchase.

“I’m very happy to have the approval,” Leverton said.

The DeKalb Police Department has $100,000 budgeted this fiscal year for such a purchase, which will fund 70 radios plus accessories. At the radios’ retail value, only 35 without accessories could have been bought this fiscal year.

The DeKalb Fire Department, meanwhile, has $200,000 budgeted, which is offset by anticipated grant revenue in the same amount. Their expenditure before any possible grant award would be $71,000, which would fund 70 radios and minimal accessories.

To ease the burden of the added budget expenditure, DeKalb fire will be deferring a $60,000 project budgeted for this fiscal year.

This matter had been brought up before the council on Friday in order to comply with a tight deadline from E.F. Technologies, but a vote was called off once it was discovered the meeting violated the Open Meetings Act by being held over Good Friday, a recognized holiday.

City Attorney Dean Frieders and interim City Manager Patty Hoppenstedt both addressed the board about the mistake before consideration.

Hoppenstedt said the intent of scheduling the meeting was to capitalize on a very limited opportunity to save on a city money but that doesn’t change the fact that the error was still made.

“We will always admit when we’ve made an error, and we absolutely made an error,” Hoppenstedt said.

Frieders said additional Open Meetings Act training procedures will be implemented to ensure that this situation does not happen again.