by Audrey Thomasson
LANCASTER—In a surprise move last week, planners took the Emergency Management Services’ request for a new facility out of the capital improvement project (CIP) budget and moved it back a year in order to consider additional options.
EMS chief Terry McGregor was requesting an additional $950,000 to add to an approved $2,050,000 budget for a new $3 million facility. He ended up with only enough proposed funding to pay $47,360 to Guernsey Tingle Architects for consulting and preliminary design fees.
During a public hearing, George Bott of District 1 noted that with the possibility of new schools, EMS might want to consider using the 90,000 square-foot high school building, once it is available.
“Save money by repurposing the building,” said Bott. “Buy it from the school district…and use local contractors to refurbish the building.”
Another District 1 resident, Jack Chamberlain, said he was concerned about the location. “We’re in Ottoman. You should have three locations, not one. Add one onto a fire station or rescue squad. We do not need one big building,” said Chamberlain.
District 2 resident Charlie Costello said the architectural renderings make the proposed EMS building look “like a Swiss Chalet.”
He noted that during the recent weather event in Irvington when a tornado touched down there were 20 people working the event out of the current operation center at the Kilmarnock/Lancaster Volunteer Rescue Squad facility.
“I don’t know what 20 people were doing,” he said. A $3 million facility “is an overkill of major proportions. It’s needed, but not at this proportion. It will be occupied by two people. Approval of prior money doesn’t mean it needs to be spent.”
“There is no intention to consolidate services,” McGregor responded. “The facility takes the function of an emergency operation center administration offices and rescue squads in one center.” He said the center gave respondents to the tornado the resources and information they needed.
Planner Steve Sorensen said, “There seems to be a lot of opposition to the proposal, but (McGregor) has the right to put in a proposal. Our only job is to put it in order and give it to supervisors.”
“That’s not our only option,” responded planner David Chupp. “We have the option to put it into another year or recommend a lower number.” He said $3 million for a building in a county of 10,000 was too much.
“We’re talking about a building that would be inhabited by two people with six bedrooms in a building that will be utilized every three or five years. Hopefully never,” he added.
“The school facility committee took 18 months. Twenty people spent time to research all the options for schools,” said planner Tara Booth. She suggested moving EMS money back a year in light of school plans and “…take the time to look at other options.”
Booth made the motion to submit to supervisors a CIP budget recommendation of $1,145,750 for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The motion moved $2 million in EMS funding from the current year to fiscal year 2018-19 and eliminated the request for an additional $950,000.
It passed on a 6-0 vote. Glendon Pinn was not at the meeting. Supporting the recommendation were Sorenson, Chupp, Tom Richardson, chairman Ty Brent, Booth and Robert Smart.
The CIP now includes $45,686 for replacement of the county’s Bright technology, $252,000 to replace incident reporting software for the sheriff’s office, $25,000 as matching funds for a school security grant, $85,000 for a new EMS advance life support vehicle, $89,000 for a new school bus, $35,825 for a new police car, $500,000 for public access sites, $47,109 for HVAC upgrades to county offices, $38,130 for a tractor with loader and rotary cutter for the building and grounds department, and $28,000 for interior renovations to the historic jail and clerk’s office.
In other business, planners are recommending supervisors approve a zoning change request from Legacy Holdings LLC, from A-2 agricultural to R-1 residential, for a home at 13257 Mary Ball Road. Buyers of the property asked for the rezoning in order to operate a home beauty salon.
The property is among a string of residential properties just outside Kilmarnock at Good Luck Road. It previously housed a beauty salon.