The Emporia City Commission tabled a decision on purchasing radios and public safety equipment during an action session at the Municipal Courtroom Wednesday night.
The decision came after Commissioner Danny Giefer presented several concerns regarding the city’s obligation to purchase radios for Lyon County Fire District No. 4, as well as the fact that the Lyon County Commission had not yet officially approved the purchase.
“In the contract that we got with [Fire District No. 4], it says that they are supposed — they compensate us for three people, which are the people who work for us in the fire department who service that area — and they are also to pay for the equipment,” Giefer said. “During the discussion we had on the radios ... we discovered that the other three fire districts are paying for their radios.”
Giefer said he believes the city commission should request Fire District No. 4 purchases its own radios.
Further, he said while it is clear Lyon County Commissioners are on track to approve the radio improvements in the coming weeks leading up to a Nov. 8 purchasing deadline, the fact remained that the county has not yet approved the purchase.
“This will give them a chance to approve it through the county commission and then we will have a chance to either approve or disprove it on Nov. 6,” Giefer said.
Lyon County Emergency 911 Communications Center Director Roxy Van Gundy said she was disappointed with the commission’s decision to table its end of the purchase. She said she believed there was some confusion fueling Giefer’s motion.
“They are a county district that is housed in the Emporia Fire Department, so I think there is some confusion on that point,” Van Gundy said. “Those trucks are still going to be used in a city call if they’re needed. They are not going to just sit in the station just because it’s in the city.”
Van Gundy said she and the rest of the 911 Board, which has worked hard on the radio communications needs for the city and county, may not have been looking at the project in the same frame of mind as a city commissioner.
“They’re seeing a county fire district where we’re just seeing the Emporia Fire Department,” she said, noting that she understands that it can be easy to misunderstand how the resources are being used.
Van Gundy expressed concern over pushing the city’s next vote until Nov. 6, which is just two days before a reduced pricing deadline with the vendor. More pressing, however, is the fact that the county’s emergency communications system is in need of replacing.
“We’ve all talked about and been pretty open about the county’s radio struggles,” she said. “We need to get it signed, so we can start getting equipment here, so we can start making some headway, so we can start getting the county in better working order.”
Commissioner Becky Smith said while she understood and respected Giefer’s concern over how taxpayer money was spent, she trusted the opinions of the city and county public safety and emergency responders on what their needs are.
“I take their opinion to heart on things that they desperately need, and we’re talking about, at this point, less than 10 radios making the difference,” Smith said. “If this ends up being a life-threatening situation where we do need those radios, I don’t want to be left short just because we were talking about a minor percentage of money.”
Smith said all city staff members have the capacity to become first responders during a traumatic event, with different departments acting as shelters or command centers.
“It will be interesting to have the vote, but I do think this is something that we need to get taken care of and go ahead and have a vote on it,” she said.
• Approved a low bid of $179,842.86 from Rubick Construction for waterline improvements on Sixth Avenue between Commercial and Merchant streets
• Proclaimed Oct. 24 to be World Polio Day in Emporia
• Approved ordinances for adoptions of international building codes, international residential codes and Emporia Building and Construction Regulations
• Approved a KDHE ordinance and loan agreement for financing of municipal water system projects