At the initial meeting of the Radio Control Board in Annapolis yesterday, appointed representatives of state and local government marked a shift from cooperation to unity as the partnerships that built the statewide interoperable radio system provided a foundation for the Radio Control Board’s central responsibility for the system and its success.
Members committed to defining and advocating for the best path forward in joint stewardship of the system while they discussed their responsibilities as members of the Radio Control Board. Working through the meeting’s agenda, they heard an update on the status of the radio system’s construction and reviewed the project’s budget and discussed funding and maintenance strategies. Clay Stamp (Talbot County), Wayne Darrell (Kent County), Charlie Summers (Washington County), and Craig Moe (City of Laurel) represented local governments at the meeting, while state representatives included Greg Urban (Information Technology), Bud Frank (Transportation), Rich Berg (Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems), Ray Lehr (Statewide Interoperability) and Andy Lauland (Homeland Security).
After the system is completed, current estimates for annual maintenance and upgrades range from $13-$15 million. Throughout the meeting, Talbot County Manager and Emergency Services Director Clay Stamp stated the need to accurately define the funding necessary to complete and maintain the system, noting the importance of the making the best estimate of costs in advance of any requests. Director of Kent County Emergency Management Wayne Darrell asked how system infrastructure owned by state and local partners would be incorporated into the overall budget. In a discussion on possible funding strategies, members shared concerns that user fees would have a chilling effect on system membership and would be a particular burden to smaller users who stand to gain the most from the statewide system.
The Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor Andy Lauland said that the Board must ensure that the system is meeting the needs of the users and do the grunt work necessary to make that happen. It might not be the work that gets medals, but it’s the work that needs to be done, he said.
For more information about the Radio Control Board, see the State and our previous posts on Conduit Street, Governor Signs MACo’s Public Safety Radio Bill Into Law and Counties and State Mark Progress on Statewide Radio System with Ceremonial “Second Call”.