December 5, 2014 | Steve Ledwell has asked the Chamber to distribute a letter he crafted to the City of Texarkana, TX and for you to consider his position on a recently announced and publicly debated City of Texarkana, Texas plan to install a new police/fire radio communications system. The estimated cost of the system will be $9M and in a worst case scenario reportedly cause a $0.04 per $100/assessed valuation increase in City property taxes. The Chamber Board of Directors has not yet taken a position on this matter, as it has been a fast moving proposal. Chamber staff has met with the City staff, attended the hearings on the matter and visited with several council members about concerns over the sole source nature of the contract (to Motorola through a buying cooperative out of Houston, TX) and lack of coordination with other entities that may be impacted in Bowie County. There does seem to be broad agreement about the need for an upgrade to the system to enhance public safety and meet new federal requirements. The City is scheduled to act on the proposal Monday night December 8th.
You can learn more about the official position of the City and view their video presentation of the council proposal at this link:
Mr. Ledwell’s open letter follows…
Becky Smart, a Motorola rep, has been soliciting our city council members this week to secure a yes vote to a very bad idea. The radio project is available on a state contract, but I strongly believe great savings can be obtained through a competitive process. A single page letter with our needs described will be enough to allow other people to propose solutions on this to ensure there is not a better solution available. To spend 9 million dollars the city does not have when our local policemen and women have radios that work is wrong. If we need to fix our system, let’s do it, but to waste this kind of money is not spending tax dollars wisely or taking care of the officers putting their lives on the line every day. I would much rather use this money to compensate them for the great job they are doing. The officers’ safety is a top priority for me, but spending 9 million dollars for a system that we might have a better option for is not the right move this month without further study and evaluation.
The very folks the city manager says he is trying to help are the ones who will be hurt the most. We have city employees who make under $18,000.00 per year and have not had a raise in two years. Salaries for the police and fire departments both need to be addressed. I have not seen the plan on how this system will be paid for, and I believe that must be presented to the citizens for feedback before anything can be done on this topic. We have a system we bought last year that does not work, and it is still in question how much we still have to pay for it. We also have an option to work with our friends across the State Line and throughout Bowie County to come up with a regional plan that works for all and that’s cost is shared by all. We don’t have buy-in from anyone (Bowie county or other towns west) on this proposed system, and there is no way this can work in isolation.
Please call, email, or call and email all the council representatives and Mayor to help them understand that we can’t buy something we can’t afford. I support the safety of our officers, but I don’t support a 9 million dollar contract that we can’t afford when other options have not been fully explored, we don’t have buy-in from our regional partners, and we have no plan on how to pay for this.
Brad Casteel, Ward 1
Willie J. Ray, Ward 2
Tina Veal-Gooch, Ward 3
Brian Matthews, Ward 4
Bill Miller, Ward 5
Phone: 903-791-9300 Cell: 903-278-3850
Josh Davis, Ward 6