Erie County Council is learning more on what it will take to install a new 26-million dollar county-wide public safety radio system.  Members met today with  officials from the county 9-1-1 center and the consulting group on the project.

If council gives the go ahead the system will unify communication between all 38 municipalities in the county and even wrap in safety services at colleges and universities. The issue is how to pay for it.  

Council is considering an idea to foot 75-percent of the cost, and assess the other 25-percent to municipalities. Incoming council president Fiore Leone says the county could take $11 million from $31 million left in reserves and use a bond issue for the rest. Project planners say they need to reach a decision soon, because the installation process will take years.  Millcreek Township would be included in the new system.  Officials there are concerned about their own aging equipment lasting until the switch.

Fiore Leone said, "I'm hoping if we do a 75 - 25 funding split, the majority of council will agree to it. It's absolutely necessary for safety to move forward on this and we're not dragging our feet.  How to finance it...is entirely different." 

Mike McGrady from MCM Consulting Group, fielded questions from council members and encouraged them to move quickly.  "It's going to take 3 years 4 months to install...certain things take time to build, get permits...we need to bid at the best time to save the county money in the long run.

Leone says making a decision on it, will be a top priority in 2015.