Claremore Daily Progress

October 17, 2012

E911 issues center on budget and safety concerns

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — A new Rogers County E911 center is facing critical obstacles as a smaller building plan reveals a decreased budget and limited tornado safety.

The building that was recently downsized to the original 4,000 square feet will no longer be built to offer the same tornado protection.
Originally, the building was set to withstand an F5 tornado, now the building will offer only basic protection as authorized under the standard building code.
“It will not be F5 rated,” according to BKL President Kim Reeve.
The issue comes down to sales tax revenue and the $1.6 will only build the building, Architect Billy Knowles said.
“The funding that is available is not significant enough to build it to what was originally proposed,” said E911 Administrator Janet Hamilton.
The FEMA 361 rating was added much later in the project.
“What rating will the structure meet?” Hamilton asked.
The response was none of the ratings.
“For an additional $500,000, we might be able to meet the rating,” said Reeve. 
The building will not be anymore tornado proof than that of any other building built to withstand 120 mile per hour winds, according to Reeve.
The issues were complicated by the funding sources that will run the center.
The new building will offer the same type of construction as standard county buildings, but would include a safe room for staff.
Additionally, the center is facing budget issues as the proposal has been dropped to $1.6 million in funding down from the more than $2 million originally slated for the project.
Neither architects nor  Hamilton could provide the requested information at this time to explain the budget decrease.
Questions were deferred to the county commissioners and many of the members present requested that all financial statements for the center be produced.
The new proposal would limit construction to that of any other county building, but would include a safe room for staff.
Now that the center has limited funding, minimal commitments by area departments and less safety features participants began to question the feasibility of the project. 
E911 funds will be used to provide equipment and radio services will likely be paid on a monthly basis, according to Hamilton.
Hamilton was asked to reveal how much money was in the E911 fund, her response is that $1 million is available to date.
This fund will be used to provide all the necessary equipment and furniture for the interior of the building.
Hamilton also explained that she would be dependent on the county commissioners to continue to support staffing needs. Currently, the county is paying for the salaries of 10 dispatchers.
The final topic of discussion was centered on the cost associated for participation in the center. 
It was clear that the many unanswered questions continue to cause concern regarding the completion of the project.