B y Derek Liebig
The Washington County Board of Supervisors voted Friday to forge ahead with a plan to construct a new 911 control center, but at least one supervisor expressed outrage over how some of the money would be spent.
Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff took umbrage with a proposal to spend up to $100,500 on six desks and corresponding storage units.
“For six desks and cabinets we are going to pay $105 per square foot,” Haff said, holding up a single square foot-sized piece of cardboard (the 911 center is 958 square feet). “I think the common man would have a hard time understanding $105 for a square foot.”
The ergonomic desks, manufactured by Xybix, include anti-microbial surfaces, air purifiers and climate control. They would also be adjustable to accommodate dispatchers in both sitting and standing positions. The desks do not include chairs, which the county purchased several years ago for $1,400 each.
“We’ve been told this is the industry standard but I think this is the gold standard,” Haff said, adding that climate-controlled desks aren’t necessary in a thermostatically-controlled room.
“The new trend is desks with treadmills. I suspect in five years when the anti-microbial desks wear out we’ll be buying something more expensive like treadmills.
He said similar desks are available from a Texas-based company for just over $6,000. Those models include electric motors so dispatchers can work sitting or standing but don’t include microbial surfaces or air purifiers.
“If you’re concerned with germs use Purell (hand sanitizer),” Haff said.
He added that an air purifier with the capacity to purify a 700-square foot room costs $849 at Lowe’s. As for climate control, if the room’s thermostat wasn’t sufficient, Haff suggested the county buy its employees a button-up Mr. Rogers’ sweater.
The entire project, which would revamp the county’s 911 control center, is budgeted to cost just under $700,000. Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell described the current center as dilapidated.
Supervisors are hopeful that some of the cost of the project would be offset by grants.
The costs associated with the project—a 911 Verizon Cassidian System, $270,000; Motorola radio consoles, $325,000; and the furniture, $100,500—are tentative and the true costs of the project won’t be known until the project is put out to bid, Kingsbury Supervisor and Chairman Jim Lindsay said.
“If we pass this, it’s no guarantee that we are going to spend $105,000,” Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks said. “It has to go to bid first; we’re just setting up the guidelines.”
Haff suggested salesmen would take advantage of those guidelines and increase their prices accordingly.
He attempted to amend the resolution by decreasing the budget for the desks from $105,000 to $52,250. Besides Haff, Jackson Supervisor Alan Brown and Easton Supervisor Daniel Shaw were the only members of the board to support the amendment.
“I think the general consensus of the County Board of Supervisors is why spend $50,000 to get the job done adequately when you can spend $100,000,” Haff said Sunday.
Hampton Supervisor Dave O’Brien said the county would end up paying less for the new 911 center than it did the last time it was improved.
The resolution, which included more than $1.5 million for other capital improvement projects, including the replacement of roofs over buildings B and C at the county complex in Fort Edward, a new management systems and IT improvements, was approved by the board.
Haff said he supports upgrades in software, computers, monitors and the center’s phone system, but “not all furniture is equal.”
“Some furniture is meant for the royal family, some is meant for utility purposes, and the rest is somewhere is in between. I think we can use something in between,” Haff said.