MOUNT VERNON — A resolution to finance 9-1-1 system upgrades was approved by the Knox County Board of Commissioners when they met Thursday morning with Knox County 9-1-1 Coordinator Richard Dzik. The board authorized the issuance of $435,000 in bonds for the purpose of paying part of the cost of acquiring communications equipment consisting of telephone upgrades and 9-1-1 equipment.
“We met as a board, and we realized we needed to narrow the band width we use for our public safety-related communications per FCC guidelines. In addition, the 9-1-1 hardware and software had given us some good life for about 15 years but hadn’t been upgraded in that time,” said Dzik, explaining the need for the necessary upgrades.
Some of 9-1-1 equipment was reported to be as much as 15 years old. Other equipment is said to be 7 years old. The telephone company will no longer permit service on this equipment after this year, according to Dzik. “They recommended that we move forward with the Next Generation 9-1-1 standards,” he said.
In an effort to preserve reserve funding for other projects, the 9-1-1 board decided to finance the purchase of the 9-1-1 communications equipment plus the related hardware and software. Attending the signing of the resolution Thursday was Cindy Higgs, vice president, First-Knox National Bank, who represented the purchase of the bonds; and county auditor Jonette Curry who certified the maximum maturity of the bonds and the estimated life of the project improvements were both at five years.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger noted that the proceeds for the project are coming from the 9-1-1 budget and not the Knox County general fund. “Some of the concerns I had were, why did we have to do this?” asked Stockberger. Dzik stated that there would be fines issued if they continued to used wide-band radio frequencies. “We could continue to utilize the equipment. It is working,” said Dzik. “But it is requiring a lot of service. Century Link has been maintaining the equipment but would no longer issue a service contract because of its age, according to Dzik. “The service contract we have now, we have used the value of it,” he said.
Dzik said he will look into the options of any trade-in value of the old equipment.