The Miami County commissioners Nov. 22 finalized an agreement intended to improve public safety through easier communication between public safety and public service agencies.

The county will come part of the Multi-Agency Radio Communication System, or MARCS, through the agreement with the Ohio Department of Administration Services.

“This will allow interoperability between our public safety and eventually public service agencies with other MARCS users,” Jeff Busch, county Communication Center director, told the commissioners. Today, Montgomery County, most of Clark County, Champaign County and Darke counties all are in MARCS or in the process of joining, he said.

“It is important for the safety of the citizens to be able to communicate if there is a major disaster and we are bringing people in from other agencies. That is the goal of getting on the MARCS system,” Busch said.

The county had been working around a year to finalize the participation and agreement. Before joining the system, the county invested in a new backbone for its communication system to ensure better communication coverage countywide said Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien.

Under the agreement, the county will turn over ownership of its new Motorola system equipment including that at five tower sites across the county to MARCS.

In turn, MARCS will assume responsibility for the equipment including required maintenance and upgrades. The county will receive from MARCS a credit toward 50 percent of the county’s costs to purchase and install the equipment, up to $1,936,979.

Once that credit used, the county will pay to MARCS a monthly subscriber fee per radio. That fee now is $10 per month, Busch said. The estimated subscriber fee down the road is estimated at around  $131,400 a year, he said following the meeting.

The county’s radios should be on the new system around the first of the year, Busch said.

O’Brien said the system was expected to be operational in September but was delayed by difficulties in securing return of the agreement from the state, he said. Busch attributed the delay, in part, to changes in state program administrators.

In other business Nov. 22, the commission approved two purchases related to generators.

The first was an automatic liquid propane supplied generator to serve as a backup to the IT server room and phone room at the Safety Building. Commissioners OK’d buying a 200 amp/16kw Generac Generator for $3,167. O’Brien emphasized that the generator is for use only by the IT Department.

The second purchase was a transfer switch to replace a switch installed in the early 1970s for a generator for the county jail in the Safety Building. A maximum cost of $7,120 was approved. The switch is from Ohio CAT.