A request for a grant is being submitted to help fund the emergency communications upgrade in Washington County.

Wednesday members of the communications commission met with the board of supervisors and discussed the next steps with the project. The request of the Washington County Riverboat Foundation is for 22% of the $11.48 million project.

Supervisors Stan Stoops and Abe Miller said they need more information to give to constituents who’ve asked them about the cost. Sheriff Jared Schneider explained the estimate is up to $10.4 million for communications equipment and another $1.1 million for a new building, but specifics aren’t yet available and the county is still in the deciding stage, “We’ve come public with the figures from our report. We’re not saying that that’s what we’re going to spend but we’re being open about it. The county isn’t going to decide to spend any money until the RFP (request for proposal) process is done, that’s where the decision on money comes into play. So we have to go through these steps to get to that point.” The bids could come in under the consultant’s estimate, but that won’t be known until the request for proposals are done.

Schneider says he spoke with the Iowa County Sheriff about how they recently upgraded their system, “They had some vendors question their process after the fact, where it looks like maybe there could be some litigation because of it. So, I’d say to protect ourselves we want to make sure we’re doing our process the right way and having them (the consultant) help us with the RFP process. It would kind of, I think, take some of that liability out of it for us.”

The goal of the upgrade in equipment and towers is to improve emergency crews’ radio coverage from about 39% to 95%. The commission will also work to collect letters of support from fire chiefs, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. The supervisors will consider an intent to apply for the grant and a resolution to guarantee funding for the essential equipment ahead of the September 13th commission meeting.