Allegan County Commissioner Kapenga Provides Updates On 911 System, Parks & More
In his report at Monday’s Saugatuck City Council meeting, Allegan County Commissioner Dean Kapenga provided officials with various updates, including:
* the county central dispatch’s ongoing proposal to upgrade communications, namely its outdated 800 MHz radio system;
* the reallocation of funds provided by Gun Lake Casino towards a capital improvement plan for public parks;
* and an update on a county task force charged with reviewing rules and procedures related to medical marijuana facilities.
Of the radio system, Kapenga said the county is preparing to open bids and send out RFPs (request for proposals) for the project in March and April.
“The system we have now is very old (a late 1990’s radio system); we can’t find replacement parts for it. We need to replace the system,” Kapenga told The Local Observer Tuesday.
Serving as the emergency answering and dispatching point for all 911 calls generated in the county, including the dispatch of all police units, emergency medical service and fire departments, the Allegan County Central Dispatch needs to address all coverage issues more effectively, county officials have conceded.
The radio replacement is expected to take place by the end of 2017 and cost between $9 million and $13 million.
To pay for it, the Allegan County Board of Commissioners, in 2013, voted to establish an operational surcharge on all telephone devices which add up to more than 90,000 devices throughout the county.
The surcharge was increased to a maximum of $3 per the 2008 August election ballot approved by voters, effective January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2019.
“This ($9 million to $13 million estimation) will take care of the initial cost; it will take care of the system—the infrastructure for it, but we still need funding for the running of it,” said Kapenga.
However, he added that the cost to run the system will bring the $3 surcharge down.
With regards to public parks, Kapenga reported the county will be taking the funds the Gun Lake Casino provides the county and redirect them to improvements throughout the parks system.
The Native American-operated casino does not pay real estate property taxes, but does provide the county with 2% of funds generated from coin slots.
Of the medical marijuana special task force, Kapenga noted: “We are really looking at, not so much the marijuana component (of the state law allowing medical facilities), but more of building and zoning codes related to facilities.”
The task force was recently established following an explosion at a medical marijuana facility—caused by a propane gas leak—at a storage garage complex which affected neighbors, causing at least one house to have its roof seriously compromised.