June 26--York County government hasn't finished paying for its last major emergency radio system project. Debt for more than $20 million worth of equipment remains.
But commissioners on Wednesday approved borrowing about $9.9 million more for an estimated $27 million upgrade.
"It's an unfortunate situation. ... I'm still not happy about it," York County Commissioner Chris Reilly said after the weekly meeting. "But ... at least we got a good rate."
York County will pay an average 2.6 percent interest rate over the nearly 15 years of the debt, according to David Payne, a director with PNC Capital Markets. The county is expected to borrow more money later.
County officials have said new federal rules, passed as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, are requiring them to upgrade the system.
Under the law, certain public-safety entities have to change the frequencies they use to let police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders communicate wirelessly.
The legislation calls for reimbursement for public-safety entities, but a March 2013 report from a working group for the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council said that funding isn't guaranteed.
"Hopefully, the federal government's going to come through with their at-least-suggested promise that they're going to reimburse us for this changeover," County Commissioner Doug Hoke said.
Local police switched from the old analog radio system to the digital one in November 2008, while fire stations and others didn't come on board until 2009, according to information from county and newspaper archives.
Eric Bistline, executive director of emergency services for the county, said in December that about $44 million went to the two-way radio system and associated costs.
Jens Damgaard, bond counsel for the county, said in April that there was about $24 million worth of equipment that hadn't been paid for.
Payne said Wednesday that about $2.7 million of refinancing that was approved in April is going toward that equipment, which brings the figure down to about $21.3 million.
Contact Ed Mahon at 717-771-2089.
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