"When you want to watch a Charger football game, you should just go over to the new police and fire headquarters because they are going to have the latest in audio technology," Escondido mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler said during the October 28 city council meeting. The statement came as Pfeiler introduced an agenda item to grant Gould Electric Inc. an additional $845,576 to the $6,517,000 contract approved back in April 2008.
The supplemental cash will go toward the "purchase, installation, and maintenance of audio and visual equipment" for Escondido's new police and fire downtown headquarters. The equipment includes a state-of-the-art sound system, computers, and 52-inch flat screen televisions that will be used to keep track of the coverage from news stations. Additional money will be used to purchase ceiling-mounted projectors, retractable projector screens, cable-ready flat-screen televisions, and electronic "smart boards" for training purposes.
According to the staff report given to the city council by assistant city manager Joyce Powers, audio and visual equipment was not included in the original six-and-a-half-million-dollar contract for two reasons: escalating construction costs for the project (city officials were concerned about how much money the city would have left for the equipment) and city staff opted to wait for the newest technology rather than store equipment while work on the project continued.
While more than $300,000 will go to dispatch and the emergency operation center, the rest of the money for audio and visual technology gets spread throughout the building. The cost to set up and maintain the community room is more than $41,500; the briefing room will cost an additional $83,393; the police chief's conference room and the training room are each in excess of $65,000. In addition to the money needed to purchase the equipment, install it, and maintain it for the next three years, Gould electric will take $135,000 out of the $845,576 change order as profit.
"Eight hundred and forty-five thousand dollars, that's a lot of money," said councilmember Sam Abed after the staff presentation. "My question is are we addressing public-safety issues? I just want to make sure we are not going into the luxury part of the deal."
Powers responded by assuring Abed that all of the money spent addresses public-safety issues. Moments later, police and fire representatives told the council that the cost for the system comes in far less than the cost other cities in the state have spent for similar purposes.
The city council unanimously approved the change order.