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Derry considers emergency communication systems upgrade

Union Leader Correspondent

February 17. 2017 1:02AM

DERRY — Using remaining capital improvement funds from the previous fiscal year, Town Administrator David Caron and Chief Financial Officer Sue Hickey have proposed a plan to spend $1.6 million to upgrade outdated police and fire communications systems.

Caron and Hickey met with the Derry Planning Board Wednesday night to present the proposal during a regularly scheduled meeting.

As part of their annual capital improvement plan, the town administrator and his team evaluate leftover reserves after the fiscal year’s operating budget has concluded. Leftover funds are then used for capital improvements that could include the police, fire, public works and information technology departments, according to Caron.

“It is our most important planning tool,” said Caron.

This year’s budget is similar to budgets of the past except for one significant change, according to Caron. This year’s budget includes a proposal to use excess funds to replace the public safety emergency communications system with an upgraded Motorola system.

Caron said the money will be used to replace all of the transmitter and receiver sites. The upgrade would also continue to help the intercommunications of the various emergency departments in Derry, he said.

“The reason we are doing this now is because we have very old equipment,” Caron said.

The equipment currently being used is 15 to 20 years old, according to Caron.

The proposal was brought to the planning board for input and for the town administrator to field any concerns.

David Granese, planning board chairman, voiced his concerns about the existence of leftover funds. Granese suggested focusing on reducing the size of the budget in the future so there would not be leftover funds.

The police and fire communication systems upgrade would begin in the summer of 2018, according to Caron.

Although the planning board cannot approve or deny a proposal, the town administrator said he felt it necessary to include the board in the review process for the sake of transparency. The proposal will have to go to the town council in April to be approved.

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