Monroe poised to upgrade radio system with help from East Brunswick

Staff Writer

MONROE — A multimillion-dollar initiative to upgrade the township’s decadesold radio system is underway, with the council ready to vote on a shared service agreement with East Brunswick to support the new system.

“Our radio communications system is 20-years old and we budgeted $3 million to upgrade the system in this year’s capital budget,” Monroe Township Business Administrator Wayne Hamilton said in an email. “Monroe and East Brunswick is [sic] finalizing a shared services agreement for Monroe to be able to access East Brunswick’s master core and radio system.”

According to Hamilton, that agreement could save Monroe as much as $700,000 that would be expended if the township were to establish its own master core.

Monroe would join South River and Spotswood in utilizing East Brunswick’s master core. Those shared service contracts provide roughly $25,000 per year each to East Brunswick, which is in the process of servicing a $4.4 million bond posted to upgrade the system. There is $2.4 million outstanding on that bond.

“As you can see, several towns have joined with us and many years ago when we upgraded the system … it would not have been cost efficient for every town to go out and purchase all new radio equipment and a whole new system,” East Brunswick Business Administrator Jim White said in an interview. “So the fact that we can all enter into these shared service agreements benefits all of the towns and saves a lot of people a lot of money.”

White added that while the costs of the shared service agreements are technically considered revenue, he views it as support to maintain the system each of the municipalities are relying on.

“You call it a revenue stream, and technically it is, but also what it is really doing is … helping me offset those costs [of buying the system,]” White said.

Currently, 584 township employees in Monroe utilize the radio system, Hamilton said, including the Board of Education, police department, EMS, senior services, transportation, utility department, local fire districts, the department of public works and the recreation department.

“The progress thus far with this upgrade project has included putting the funding in place, getting Motorola equipment pricing and negotiating the agreement,” Hamilton said. “Once both governing bodies authorize the shared services agreement, Monroe’s Township Council will be asked to authorize the purchase of the Motorola equipment using state contract pricing.”

According to Hamilton, that vote should take place on Sept. 9.

“Providing the technology does not change significantly or new FCC regulations mandate any changes, I would expect the equipment to last at least 10 years,” Hamilton added.

The $3 million for the upgrade was included in the township’s capital budget, while the annual $25,000 cost of the shared service agreement with East Brunswick is slated to come from the police department’s operating budget, as well as any necessary maintenance to the system.