Goodyear City Council unanimously approved a $3 million budget transfer to expand its communications services for its public service departments.
During a December meeting, acting Chief of Police Santiago Rodriguez presented a request to approve a budget transfer for fees and costs to complete the Regional Wireless Cooperative Simulcast Site. This will expedite its construction, which reportedly would bring Goodyear a communications tower designed to aid the city’s public service departments.
According to Lisa Berry, a police spokeswoman, “The tower already exists ... The expenditure is for the design, permits (and) construction to build a small building at the base to house equipment, purchase and installation of equipment including a generator.”
Rodriguez said the city began its partnership with RWC in 2008 “To meet the expanding needs of public safety and its support functions across the Phoenix metropolitan region,” according to the RWC website. Adding:
The cooperative group “oversees the administration, operation, management, maintenance and growth of this state-of-the-art regional public safety communications network.”
The cooperative body is made of 19 Valley cities, towns and fire districts. Other West Valley cities and fire districts working with RWC include Avondale, Buckeye, Daisy Mountain Fire District, El Mirage, Glendale, Maricopa County Community College District, Peoria, Sun City Fire Department, Surprise and Tolleson.
Since 2018, Goodyear police and fire departments use RWC’s Motorola ASTRO 25 digital trunked radio system as the primary source of communication. RWC devices include police radios inside patrol cruisers, fire trucks and carried by members of both departments.
The website states the radio network “operates in the 700 MHz frequency band and consists of eight major simulcast subsystems and provides over 8,000 square miles of coverage across the entire region and beyond.” Currently, RWC serves roughly 20,000 local, state and federal agencies.
This new system is aimed at replacing the outdated Phoenix Fire Department-operated VHF “conventional” radio emergency system currently in use, which RWC assumed responsibility of earlier this year.
“Right now, we have about $900,000 approved for both design and equipment and then in fiscal year 2021, it’s approved to have just over $3 million approved for the construction and the implementation of the equipment, with a total of about $4 million,” Rodriguez reported.
He added this project falls within the existing five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) of Goodyear from a general fund, which includes things like infrastructure and public safety upgrades.
“Our proposed project timeline would be to advance all the fiscal year 2021 funds, just over $3 million, to the current fiscal year to be able to use those funds to run the design, the equipment purchase and the construction all at once,” Rodriquez explained, “by doing this the overall project timeline would be shortened by nine months.”
Rodriquez added the proposed projected timeline is meant to have the system up and running around Sept. or Oct. 2020. Which, in the long run, could save the city money.
“It would reduce overall project costs not to exceed $2 million,” Rodriguez said. “This would allow a project savings of about $2 million.”
He called it “a win-win.”
The council was supportive of the proposed timeline and the budget transfer.
This upgrade to the communications department allows the Goodyear public safety department to have improved radio coverage throughout the city while responding to calls.
“If there’s an immediate tactical situation that’s going on or if there’s a planned event, it gives us channels we can go through that are secure,” Rodriguez said.
Councilmember Sheri Lauritano said Goodyear needs to keep its communications system in mind as it grows. “This is a great step forward,” Lauritano said. “As we grow, we need to make sure we keep on top of all communication.”
Councilmember Laura Kaino asked Rodriguez if the RWC would benefit Goodyear through an extended period, rather than just temporarily. Rodriguez answered the RWC would be beneficial for years to come.
“It’ll also put a redundancy out there for us so we would be able to share with other cities and they would be able to share their redundancy with us if we’re on the edge of the city,” Rodriguez said.