LEMOORE — All involved parties are still on board for a multi-agency police and fire dispatch center in Lemoore, but plans are moving at a slower pace than expected.
“This is not a quick turn-around project,” said Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson. “We expect this to take a few more years.”
In October, Lemoore Police Chief Darrell Smith told the Sentinel that participating agencies had been working on an agreement to create a joint powers authority. The agreement would allow each agency to have a say in the facility’s operations, and designate how costs would be shared among them.
The center would provide dispatch services for the Lemoore police and fire departments, Kings County sheriff and fire departments and the Avenal Police Department. Previous reports state a preliminary design for the 5,500-square-foot facility would place it west of the existing Lemoore Police Department building at 657 Fox St.
Robinson said the joint powers authority agreement had been made, but attorneys were still reviewing it because some language changes came in at the last minute and more time was needed. Smith said there is only one more meeting to have before the agreement is finalized.
Then, Smith said, they will file a letter of intent, and Robinson said the agencies will take the agreement to the Kings County Board of Supervisors and local city councils for approval.
Once local officials sign off on the agreement, the joint powers agreement would have to get state approval from the Department of General Services, which provides services for building standards and codes.
Robinson said the center would cost roughly $6 million to build, and the annual combined cost for all the agencies would be around $1.5 million to operate. He said this gives them about $200,000 a year in combined savings.
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Smith said he couldn’t comment specifically about how much money the entire project could cost or where the money would be coming from until the agreement was signed in a few weeks. He did say, however, that a preliminary estimate for the center put the cost at $6.1 million, though they are exploring their options.
According to previous Sentinel reports, Lemoore pays Hanford about $420,000 per year for dispatch services. Lemoore began pursuing its own dispatch center in mid-2013, which would have cost $2.1 million to build and $750,000 per year to operate.
Smith said a time frame for when construction on the center would start is still unknown at this time.
Robinson said the sheriff’s office currently has a dispatch center at the Kings County Government Center and a secondary site at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) next to the county fire administration building.
Robinson said when the new center in Lemoore opens, the Lemoore site will become the main dispatch center and the site at the Kings County Government Center will be for the EOC.
The sheriff’s office has 15 dispatchers, and Robinson said he has them in mind and is looking at the project from a staff perspective. He said he will work closely with dispatchers to make sure they can work at the new dispatch center and accommodate them as best as he can.
“Staff is really the backbone behind emergency services in the community,” Robinson said.