FARMINGTON — A plan to build a new emergency 911 dispatch center for Franklin County received unanimous support this week from two county committees, and the $620,000 project may go before voters by June.

Commissioners decided Tuesday to review the plan and alternatives at a meeting on Dec. 20, when they will vote on sending the issue to voters.

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.

Commissioners formed a building committee to come up with another plan to build the new dispatch center. That committee, which consists of county officials and several community members, worked with an architect to prepare the project that will be presented to voters.

The county budget committee has also unanimously voted to support holding a public vote on the project presented this week.

Commissioners and the budget committee participate in a shared approval process for the county’s budget, but the commissioners have the authority to seek a referendum vote when public money is involved.

Commissioner Gary McGrane said Tuesday that he supports the project but wants to prepare an alternative plan for the upcoming meeting. He plans to have an architect prepare cost estimates for renovating space in the county-owned jail building to house the dispatch center.

The jail became a 72-hour holding facility when the state Legislature consolidated jails statewide, leaving the Franklin County jail underutilized and wasting money on heating empty rooms and other maintenance costs, McGrane said.

He said his plan could also save money when compared to constructing a new building for the dispatch center.

The other two commissioners are opposed to using the jail for other purposes, a plan that they said has been studied in the past and encountered a number of problems ranging from safety concerns to acoustic issues.

Commissioner Clyde Barker argued that moving the dispatch center into the jail limits the options for growth. The jail is seeking to incorporate pre-release work programs for inmates, and that program would need the space that is being considered for the dispatch center, he said.

The dispatch center could also outgrow the empty space in the jail and force the county to construct a new building in the future, Barker said.

David Robinson — 861-9287

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