County dodges bullet with FCC

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Waiver allows time to find money for radios

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Levy County has dodged an expensive bullet to meet a Jan. 1, 2013, deadline for converting all its Department of Public Safety radios to 12.5kHz, better known as narrowbanding.

The failure to meet the deadline, which was set by the Federal Communications Commission in 2004, could have resulted in stiff fines for every day the county did not comply. 

However, the change could cost as much as $900,000, according to Department of Public Safety Director David Knowles. It would have meant changes in the agency's emergency medical services and fire radios.

Knowles announced at a County Commission meeting Tuesday morning that the FCC has issued a waiver to the deadline. 

“On Dec. 31 we received a waiver for 12 months from the FCC to become compliant,” Knowles said, giving credit to County Attorney Anne Bast Brown.

The anticipated fine for scofflaws who do not comply with the FCC mandate is $16,000 per day for a continuing violation of the mandate, loss of the agency's radio license and up to $112,500 “for any single act or failure to act” according to an FCC enforcement advisory issued Aug. 22, 2012. 

Knowles did not say whether he had found the money in his budget to pay for the conversion.