Corrupt file may cost county $8K

Published 10:45pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A software problem in the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency’s alarm activation system may cost the county up to $8,000.

Dallas County Emergency Management previously used a computer-based system, but is planning to purchase a manual system that could cost up to $8,000 because of a corrupt file.

Dallas County EMA Director Rhonda Abbott said the previous system used software that was outdated.

“The software wasn’t available,” she said. “Our contractor tried to locate the software and it just wasn’t there.”

The broken system is connected to the sirens, but shouldn’t affect alerts during emergencies. She said that Dallas County’s 911 services can also activate the sirens.

Abbott said she initially considered purchasing a modern, computerized system, but the purchase would have been too costly. Instead, Abbott asked the commission to approve the purchase of a manual system that isn’t computer based.

“The system will work with what we have,” she said. “It is not the most up-to-date system, but it will work fine.”

The Dallas County Commission approved the purchase if individual municipalities in the county agree to pay for maintenance on the sirens in their limits.

“We knew this was going to happen at some point,” Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard said during the Monday meeting. “We have got to do it regardless to have an operable siren system.”

The new system should be in place by next week, Abbott said.

There are five sirens in Selma, three in Valley Grande, one in Orrville and eight in unincorporated areas throughout Dallas County. Abbott said Valley Grande Mayor Wayne Labbe has already agreed to pay for maintenance, but she is still waiting to hear from Orrville and Selma.

Maintenance costs aren’t set in stone. Abbott said the degree of damage determines how much repairs cost.

“For example, two years ago some type of little critter ate the wiring in Orrville,” she said. “That issue cost the county $10,000 to get repaired. It really all depends on the issue.”

The manual alert system isn’t a permanent solution. Ballard and Abbott confirmed that the commission has considered purchasing a more modern system, but hasn’t set a purchase date.

“It is really all based on what we need rather than want,” Abbott said. “It’s all about financials and how you can adjust them to meet your needs.”

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