FARMINGTON — A plan to build a new emergency 911 dispatch center for Franklin County will not be ready to go before voters until next year at the earliest, instead of this fall as some county officials had previously hoped.

Commissioners decided last week to have a building committee review the project before presenting it to voters. The committee will consist of county officials and at least one community member.

Some county officials had hoped to hold a public referendum vote in November, when taxpayers could decide if they wanted to pay for the project, estimated to cost about $700,000.

The dispatch center, currently sharing space in the Franklin County sheriff’s office in Farmington, has been part of lengthy debate over space shortages in county government offices.

Voters rejected a $4.46 million plan last year that tried to relocate most county offices and build a new dispatch center.

Another plan to build the new dispatch center may be ready for a vote by next summer, according to Franklin County Commissioner Gary McGrane.

The other two commissioners voted along with McGrane to have the committee prepare more details on the dispatch center project, which had been researched for the plan rejected last year.

The committee will review the original designs, prepare updated plans and provide a cost estimate for the dispatch center, according to McGrane.

There may be changes from the preliminary designs and project cost, he said.

“We will not be ready by November because we will not have a definitive plan in terms of the amount (of money) that we want to ask from taxpayers,” he said.

Commissioners and the county budget committee, which participate in a shared approval process for the county’s budget, have already taken steps to spend taxpayers’ money to hold the referendum vote on the dispatch center construction project.

The 2012 county budget adopted recently includes $20,000 to pay for costs tied to holding the public vote on the project.

After last week’s decision to delay the vote, it’s unclear whether the plan will be ready in time to spend those tax dollars, according to McGrane.

The county fiscal year runs from July through June. This means voting on the dispatch center project will have to be held during the statewide referendum held in June 2012 in order to spend that money, according to McGrane.

“If those funds are not expended, we will put them into surplus and they will be used to (lower) the tax burden,” he said.

McGrane described the project as a priority because it solves a space shortage hurting two important public safety services, currently sharing the building behind Franklin County Detention Center, on Fairbanks Road in Farmington.

“The dispatch center has always been a priority of mine, if we can get the dispatch center out of there we can get more room for the sheriff’s office,” he said.

In other Franklin County action, commissioners adopted the 2012 tax rate during a meeting last week.

They voted unanimously to raise the tax rate to $1.01 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up from $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation last year.

The owner of a $100,000 will pay $101 in county taxes in 2012, up $1 from last year.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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