York County is preparing to build a brand-new 911 communications system.

Yes, another brand-new 911 communications system.

Roughly five years after the launch of a $36 million radio system, the county commissioners this week authorized spending $68,470 for engineering and licensing services in anticipation of a $28 million switch to a new frequency.

Marked by delays and other glitches, the creation of the current system was by no means smooth.

But it actually seems to be working well right now.

The upcoming rebuild has nothing to do with any deficiency and isn't the result of poor planning by anyone at the county level.

In 2011, Congress passed a law reallocating 700MHz frequencies to public safety agencies, fixing a problem identified after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In exchange, the law requires those agencies to surrender the "T-band" they now use so those frequencies can be auctioned off in the marketplace.

The York County 911 system, like many others, was built specifically for T-band, meaning emergency officials will have to start over to accommodate the new frequencies.

Once the T-band is auctioned off, the money will be put into a fund to be distributed to those who had to vacate their frequencies -- but it's far from clear how much will be raised and how much cost will have to be shouldered by the individual agencies.


York Commissioner Chris Reilly said he and his colleagues on the board sent letters to York's federal legislators -- Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County -- asking them to revisit or repeal the change, or at least clarify how much reimbursement York will get for making the changes.

That might be asking a lot, considering Congress can barely accomplish even the most basic aspects of governing.

But we think our federal lawmakers should follow up on this mandate and at least give communities a better idea of how many local tax dollars will be needed.