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Town questions county about 9-1-1 radio money

Jonesborough could get reimbursed for radios it purchased for its volunteer fire department — radios that could have been paid for by the county in the first place.
“When everybody made the digital switch for police and fire radios, when Johnson City changed their system, we had to buy new radios and make ourselves compliant with that new system,” said Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe. “What transpired for all the volunteer fire departments in the county was that the county provided them with radios.”
Wolfe said the Town of Jonesborough somehow did not receive radios, and instead ended up paying for the volunteer fire department radios itself.
The cost of the volunteer department’s 12 radios, which Jonesborough paid for with part of a $200,000 capital outlay note, is $35,746.50.
Ten portable radios, plus chargers, come to $29,165.50, and two portable mobile radios cost $6,550.
Jonesborough officials plan to attend this morning’s County Budget Committee meeting to request reimbursement for the radios.
“I really don’t know what happened,” said Jonesborough Operations Manager Craig Ford. “We have a city fire district, and we have a county fire district, and we’ve got a 5-mile radius outside the city limits of Jonesborough. We are as much a part of the county volunteer fire service as the others are.”
A reimbursement “would help and would go a long way,” Ford said.
“We rely heavily on our volunteers and our PSO program for county fire protection,” Ford said. “If we just did fires in the city, it wouldn’t be as critical.”
Ford noted that its Jonesborough water that’s provided at hydrants in part of the county, and the fire department that services them.
On average, county volunteer fire departments received 17 radios each, so Wolfe said asking for money for 12 radios seems reasonable.
Washington County Budget Chairman Pat Wolfe said somewhere in the planning to acquire radios, Jonesborough’s officials “inadvertently” did not ask for radios for its volunteer fire department.
“From what the Mayor has told me, Jonesborough inadvertently did not ask, and they later realized they had not been included for the volunteers,” Pat Wolfe said.
Pat Wolfe said his understanding is that County Mayor George Jaynes has seen information on the radios.
At the Feb. 16 budget meeting, “we will probably be looking at allocating some money to reimburse Jonesborough for the radios” somewhere in the range of what it cost Jonesborough to purchase the radios, he said.