Lake County approves equipment provider, bond issue for 911 dispatch center
BY CARRIE NAPOLEON Post-Tribune correspondent February 19, 2014 2:36PM
Updated: February 20, 2014 2:03AM
CROWN POINT — An infrastructure equipment provider for the consolidated E-911 dispatch center and a funding source to pay for the equipment have been approved by county officials.
Motorola Corp.’s $11.62 million bid to supply the equipment was approved 2-1 Wednesday by the Lake County commissioners.
The bid includes a seven-year maintenance agreement; the selection comes after an extensive request-for-proposal process.
Commissioner Michael Repay, D-Hammond, declined to vote; he said he just received the hard copy recommendation from the E-911 commission’s technology subcommittee prior to the meeting and did not have enough time to review it to make an informed decision on any vendor.
Three vendors submitted proposals for the E-911 infrastructure. Cassidian Communications submitted the high bid of about $12.54 million for the equipment and maintenance. Harris Corp. was the apparent low bidder at $9.88 million, but Motorola’s submission was deemed the “lowest and most responsive.”
Jack Allendorf, E-911 deputy director, said upon review the technical committee found the Harris bid did not comply with the county’s request for bid proposals. Brian Hitchcock, director, said the Harris proposal incorporated the purchase of individual radios in the discount offered for the full package. The county had stipulated individual radios were not to be included.
The Harris maintenance agreement was not as thorough as the Motorola agreement. Harris agreed to staff one maintenance person locally with any others to come from Naperville, Ill. The contract also would bill premium fees for service after regular business hours and weekends. The Motorola service contract did not have upcharges and service technicians are local.
Commissioner Gerry Schueb, D-Crown Point, said he was comfortable with the agreement.
“I’ve reviewed every bid and every recommendation. Every question I had was answered as of two days ago,” Schueb said.
Commissioner Roosevelt Allen Jr, D-Gary, said the arduous bidding process included two mandatory pre-bid meetings and a two-stage evaluation. That process, he added, identified the vendor that would best serve the county’s needs.
“The tech committee did a very comprehensive job of scoring and evaluating these vendors to make certain they met all specifications,” Allen said.
Allen said the request-for-proposals process paid off for the county instead of the original plan to use the state’s “quantity purchasing agreement” pricing. Motorola is the state’s vendor for radio equipment through that agreement, sometimes referred to as a “QPA.”
“We were able to receive bids below the QPA by the state. It was definitely an advantage to Lake County,” Allen said.
Repay agreed bidding the project out was the right move to help the county save even more money.
“I think it proves it was a valuable process to go through,” Repay said.
Hitchcock said the bid pricing from Motorola is a little more than $1 million less than the county would have paid for the same equipment through the state agreement.
“We got a good price, no doubt,” Hitchcock said.
In order to pay for the equipment as well as the construction and other materials needed that were not part of the infrastructure bid package, commissioners also approved going out for a $21 million bond. John Dull, commissioners’ attorney, said the bond will be paid for with the county’s portion of the public safety income tax.
The amount of the bond issue can be reduced up until the date it is sold and ultimately will be written for the exact amount of the purchases.
The county will not be able to enter into a contract with Motorola until funds are available. Dull said he expects the bonds to be ready in May.