Council to consider MARCS request

GREENVILLE — A request by Darke County for an agreement between it and the City of Greenville on a new radio system for emergency first responders was a topic of discussion during the Greenville City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

Safety/Service Director Curt Garrison said he had received a letter Tuesday afternoon from the Darke County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Service (EMA). The letter was a request for the city to sign on to a “memorandum of understanding” in order for the county to pursue construction of a MARCS communication tower.

Garrison explained that the county’s (and city’s) current emergency VHF radio system could be upgraded or a move could be made to the MARCS system, a costlier but more reliable service.

MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communications System) is a wireless, digital-based system maintained by the state that allows uninterrupted communication among various emergency agencies within the state of Ohio.

Garrison described the area near Union City, Ohio, as “deficient” in regards to MARCS, and the county is seeking to place a MARCS tower there.

“The long-term plan that the county communications committee has stated is that the best option for the county is to make that move from VHF to MARCS,” he said.

Funding for the system is a major impediment, not only for Darke County agencies, but for Greenville City agencies as well as all other municipalities and townships within the county, large and small.

Garrison said the county has explored a number of funding options, including a millage (property) tax, a utility tax and grants.

If signed on to by the city, the memorandum of understanding would be used in support of the county’s pursuit of state funding, namely a grant from the Local Government Safety Capital Grant Program, which would provide up to $100,000 to individual municipalities, or up to $500,000 for entities within the county as a whole, which, if awarded, would then be divided among law enforcement, fire and EMS services within Darke County.

Under this memorandum, Darke County would act as the “lead applicant” in the grant application. Garrison stated the city would not be under any financial obligation.

“There is no money that the city would have to pay to the county,” he said. “The city will not pay for a communications tower in Union City. We are just saying, if [council approves] this, you would just say the City of Greenville supports the county moving forward with the grant process to put a tower in Union City.”

The application is due by the end of March. Garrison said he would prefer that council and the city’s law director review the memorandum first before moving ahead. Council’s next meeting is March 15, the first opportunity a formal approval could be enacted.

Garrison also presented council with information derived from a meeting with the Darke County EMA and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding three outstanding issues with the city’s water, namely, lack of sufficient water storage, susceptibility to harmful algal blooms and potential manmade hazards.

He reported that a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program could fund 75 percent of a city water improvement project, up to $4 million. Projects could include construction of a new water tower for the city, algal bloom treatment options, or asset management.

Council agreed to assign the issue to the Utilities Committee for review. The deadline for this grant application is April 29.

Among other business, council approved an ordinance securing appropriations for multiple city departments for the purchase of assorted vehicles and equipment as well as construction costs.

Also approved was a resolution authorizing the Safety/Service Director to enter into a contract with Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab for 2016, in the amount of $21,328.

Resolutions were also passed approving an extended one-year contract with Rumpke Waste Disposal for city trash and recyclables pickup; a joint contract with Greenville City Schools and Speedway LLC for volume fuel discounts; and for the sale of municipally-owned property through GovDeals.com.

A resolution authorizing a change order with Brumbaugh Construction in the amount of $127,972 for the extension of 16-inch waterline under Ohio Street was approved.

Council also gave the go-ahead for the Safety/Service Director to execute a joint application with the Darke County Park District for improvements to the bike path.

Greenville City Council meets at 7:30 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of every month at the Greenville Municipal Building. For more information, visit the city’s website at www.cityofgreenville.org.

By Erik Martin

[email protected]

The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.