A 1/4-cent sales tax was approved by St. Charles County voters in 2009 to fund the changes, which would eliminate the systems currently in place in the various municipalities. A single, unified system for law enforcement, fire, ambulance and public works communications would help to eliminate the gaps in service that resulted from the previous patchwork of systems.
The new unified system is expected to be more economical and also make it easier for an agency in one municipality to speak with an agency in a different municipality.
The St. Charles system will be part of a larger system that includes St. Louis County and Jefferson County.
Originally, the FCC mandated the changes for Jan. 1, 2013, but St. Charles County was given an extension to Jan. 1, 2014.
St. Charles County contracted with Motorola Solutions to locate tower sites and build the new system of emergency communications towers.
Motorola has identified 12 locations across St. Charles County that will help to provide clear and reliable coverage as well as the capacity for multiple users at any one time. 60 possible sites were originally analyzed for potential coverage, construction and commercial viability and environmental impacts.
A video on the St. Charles County administration website explains the factors under consideration for the placement of the towers.
Some of the sites will be on County-owned properties currently already used for law enforcement or for equipment storage:
- The St. Charles County Sheriff's Office, 101 Sheriff Dierker Court in O'Fallon
- The St. Charles County Highway Shed at 2550 Bethman Road in St. Charles
- The St. Charles County Highway Shed at 2480 St. Peters Howell Road in St. Peters
- A site at 7301 S. Hwy. 94 that is proposed for a highway shed.
Two St. Charles County parks have also been proposed as sites. Indian Camp Creek Park on Dietrich Road off of Hwy. 61 north of Wentzville is a developed park.
The other is the site of a future park on South Point Prairie Road in Wentzville. That site was partially donated by Patricia Barnard and her late husband Robert. According to a Jan. 27 story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bernard is disappointed with this use of the land. City Councilman Joe Brazil opposes the use of the Bernard Park property, as well as another proposed tower location in Augusta.
St. Charles County purchased a property at 975 Meyer Road in Wentzville after negotiations to place a tower on the city's Law Enforcement Center property fell through.
A location in St. Charles City at Adams and Third Street behind the county jail is also under consideration.