More megahertz maintenance discussion in AftonAfton City Council was faced with more discussion regarding the 800 megahertz telecommunications system during its May 15 meeting.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Afton City Council was faced with more discussion regarding the 800 megahertz telecommunications system during its May 15 meeting.
Afton’s “Stealth Tower” is one of 14 similar towers scattered across Washington County by the sheriff’s office as part of the 800 MHz radio system, which is used for public safety and emergency services communications.
The towers went live in March of 2008.
Last month Jim Stanley, of the Lower St. Croix Valley Fire Department, informed City Council that there are discussions currently occurring between Washington County and the public safety department on ways to cut costs associated with the system.
Currently, the radios that use the 800 MHz system cost about $400 to use, thus totaling close to $11,000 a year.
The LSCVFD is requesting that Washington County fund the radios, rather than the LSCVFD, since the funds ultimately come out of the Washington County budget and property taxes anyway.
“It really is just a shift,” Council Member Bill Palmquist said.
If the proposal moves forward, a line item totaling less than $5 would be included on residents’ property tax statements.
“The taxpayer is going to still pay the same amount,” Mayor Pat Snyder said.
In order for the county to move forward with the line item, Washington County Commissioner Gary Kriesel is requesting that all cities show support for the proposal.
During last Tuesday’s meeting, Interim City Administrator Ron Moorse provided additional information to City Council stating that the LSCVFD is a unique situation since it is a collaborative between five cities – Afton, Denmark Township, St. Croix Beach, Lakeland and St. Mary’s Point.
In other Washington County communities, the maintenance costs are billed directly to the cities.
If Washington County should change the funding model, it would affect all cities in the county.
“We’re just a really, really small player,” Moorse said. “It’s just our little piece of the pie that is the challenge.”
Council Member Joe Richter said he would not be in favor of making the shift given other public safety equipment is not included as a line item.
“It seems to me this is right where is should be,” he said.
Afton City Council decided to postpone its vote since Snyder will be meeting with the mayor of the five-city collaborative in the coming weeks and it felt it would be better to see where the other cities stand before making action.