At Tuesday’s meeting, Montgomery County legislators approved bonding for $850,000 to replace the control system at the county’s public safety building.
At last week’s meeting of the Legislature’s Budget and Finance Committee, Undersheriff Justin Cramer and County Executive Matthew Ossenfort told legislators that a lightning strike had disabled equipment that controls locks and doors at the public safety building. The estimated cost of repairing the damage is $840,000. Ossenfort said then that the county had filed an insurance claim, but due to the age of the affected equipment, he did not expect a “substantial” return. Cramer said the equipment was installed in 1995 and is now obsolete, and the company that installed it is no longer in business.
District 9 Legislator Robert Purtell said Tuesday that he had visited the public safety building along with Cramer, Legislature Chairman Terry Bieniek and Sheriff Michael Amato to determine the extent of the damage caused by the lightning strike.
“It certainly is a situation we need to address over there for several reasons: the age of the equipment, the reliability of the equipment, the technology and the condition of it,” Purtell said. “It’s not clear exactly what caused the problem, but…what happens is that when you get a power outage, whether it’s caused by an electrical storm or the power supplier, you have a battery backup system that takes over for 10 seconds [before the emergency generator comes on].”
“All the batteries are old, the equipment is old, the computer equipment that’s running the system is from 1998, and they look like CPUs that you would have had back in 1998. The mechanisms in the control boards are not functioning as properly as they should.”
Purtell said he felt comfortable supporting the bonding resolution, even though it meant putting off another capital project–replacing the roof on the public safety building-for another year or two.
Legislators asked whether the amount received from an insurance claim should be deducted from the amount bonded for the project. County Attorney Megan Manion said the bond could be paid off early using the proceeds from the insurance claim. Purtell suggested using any extra money to replace worn locking mechanisms in the building. No decision was made on what to do with any extra money.