The City of Brownwood is exploring a way to lower the cost of upgrading the communications system used in Brownwood and throughout Brown County.


City council members agreed Tuesday to reject the proposals received earlier for the upgrade and to begin negotiating a contract with the LCRA, which has submitted a lower-cost proposal for an alternative solution.


According to an agenda item briefing document:


The cities of Brownwood, Early, and Bangs and Brown County made the decision to seek competitive proposals for upgrading the VHF (Very High Frequency) radio infrastructure that all entities use for public safety communications.


After receiving and analyzing the proposals, the city was contacted by


the LCRA who expressed their interest in providing a 700 megahertz (MHz) trunking system solution. LCRA, as a state agency, is prohibited from submitting a response to a request for proposals.


After meeting with the LCRA, the services and prices they offer beat the proposals received under the RFP process. Therefore, the city desires to reject all proposals received and rescind the decision to seek competitive proposals. Instead, the City desires to negotiate and possibly contract with the LCRA to be the vendor on the project.


Contracting with a state agency, such as the LCRA, through an interlocal agreement to provide goods and services is an exception to the competitive bidding requirements under Texas law. Staff will present the interlocal agreement with LCRA to the council for consideration at a future meeting.


"The radio project is something we’ve been working on for over a year now," Brownwood City Manager Emily Crawford said at the council meeting. "It has been a long and tedious process. Just to remind you where it started — we are having some radio issues, mainly out in the county as well as in our dispatch communications center."


The cities of Brownwood, Early and Bangs as well as Brown County Early and Bangs agreed to hire consultant to provide solutions. The consultant provided specifications for "basically an upgrade to our VHF system which would include several more towers," Crawford said.


"We went out for proposals and received, I believe, five proposals. In the meantime the LCRA had heard about our project and came to us with an alternative, which was a 700 megahertz trunked radio system. We felt like it was the best solution."


The LCRA proposal includes the use of three existing towers, Crawford said.