Florida Legislature Passes Surcharge Bill to Provide Funding for SLERS Network
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | Comments

The Florida legislature passed and Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that re-establishes a surcharge that helps fund the Florida Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS).

Florida Senate Bill 2510 imposes a $3 surcharge that must be paid for specified criminal offenses and non-criminal moving traffic infractions. That particular surcharge was set to expire July 1 but the legislation extends it to July 1, 2026.

The money from that surcharge is deposited into the Florida Department of Management’s (DMS) State Agency Law Enforcement Radio System Trust Fund to be used for the SLERS system and to provide technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies with their communications. Under the law, the Florida DMS is capable of using the funds in that trust fund to recover the costs and expenses incurred for managing, administering and overseeing the SLERS system. The law directs the DMS to work with the Joint Task Force on State Agency Law Enforcement Communications to determine where the funds should be used.

Last year, the Florida DMS selected Federal Engineering to develop a business use case for a new SLERS system. The extension of the surcharge eliminates one concern highlighted in the business case.

SLERS is funded by a $1 license surcharge and a $3 ticket surcharge. The business case estimated that revenue from these two sources would be about $308 million over a ten-year period. If the $3 surcharge had sunset, it would have likely eliminated at least $42.3 million in funding for the new SLERS network.

Currently, the state has a contract with L3Harris Technologies to maintain and operate the state network. That contract ends on June 30, and Florida DMS and L3Harris have been negotiating over a contract extension for several months.

In 2016, the Florida DMS began the process of procuring a replacement for the SLERS network. In 2018, the DMS selected Motorola Solutions to replace the network. Harris, which has since merged with L3 Technologies to form L3Harris, contested that selection but lost several court challenges.

However, at the start of 2020, contract negotiations between Florida DMS and Motorola fell through, putting the future of the network in jeopardy. Following the contract negotiations with Motorola falling apart, the Florida DMS began negotiations on a network extension and took steps to start another procurement process.

That process led to the development of the business case for the new network. Since the release of the business case, the DMS has also released an invitation to negotiate for the SLERS replacement network. The deadline for submissions to that ITN is May 11.

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