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LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature is expected to vote Tuesday to approve the borrowing of $6.8 million to construct new emergency radio towers around the county.

County Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews said Friday the bonds will come due in 10 years, and he anticipates an interest rate of less than 2 percent, “given the county’s bond rating, the credit markets and the term of the bonds.”

It’s part of a $10 million package, which also includes new portable radios for every first responder in the county.

County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz said the county obtained a one-year extension of the deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission for converting its emergency radio system to take up less space on the broadcast spectrum. The so-called “narrowbanding” mandate was to have taken effect Jan. 1.

Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, said the county will erect four new towers at Terry’s Corners Fire Company in Royalton, the City of Lockport composting plant, the county voting machine storage site in Newfane and at Gratwick Hose Company in North Tonawanda.

Also, three existing antennas will be renovated at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Upper Mountain Fire Company in Lewiston, Godfrey said.

Glatz said the county’s goal is to have all the towers up by the end of 2013. “It’ll be close,” he said. The towers must pass operational testing before being put in service.

Motorola Solutions is the supplier of the radio equipment.

The bonds will pay for steel towers for the radio antennas, a concrete shelter at the base of each to house the radio gear, emergency electric generators at each site, fences, access driveways and underground electrical service.

Also, part of the borrowing will be upgraded equipment for the Sheriff’s Office communications center and the construction of a backup operations center, which Godfrey said will be located in the basement at Gratwick Hose.

The county obtained a $2 million state homeland security grant to help pay for the project. Money from the cellphone surcharge also was obtained.

Glatz said bidding for the tower construction should come in about two months. The Legislature also will vote Tuesday on a finding of no significant environmental impact for the project.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com