Wake Commissioners Want to Fund Emergency Ops Center in CIP

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Wake County Commissioners want to see a new emergency operations center funded in the county’s five-year capital improvement plan.

The county has $18 million in uncommitted funds in the 2015 – 2021 capital improvement plan and has proposed $100,000 in 2015 to study the new center, which still doesn’t have a clearly defined scope.

“There was a submission for the EOC and we determined that it needed a little bit more study,” said Interim Budget Director Michelle Venditto. “We’re not exactly sure what the scope and the cost estimate is.”

Venditto said the county could take a year to finalize the scope and the cost of the project as well as work with possible partners.

But, Commissioners want to see the funding allocated for the entire project.

Commissioner Joe Bryan said that he didn’t know how the plan could not include the center.

The county’s current emergency operations center is located in the old County Courthouse basement. It does not meet FEMA or ADA regulations. There are no bathrooms, running water, or areas for food storage and preparation.

“We know our current EOC is not satisfactory,” Bryan said. “If we’re looking to be able to respond and be resilient to any type of major event in Wake County, we need an updated EOC.”

“I think we should move that into the list,” he added.

The county is expecting to pay about $12.1 million for a new center, but Deputy County Manager Joe Durham said staff is looking at partnership opportunities with other agencies like the Town of Cary and N.C. State. If any of those opportunities pan out, the projected cost would go down.

In a split vote, Commissioners previously declined a partnership with the City of Raleigh in its new emergency operations center because a portion of the building wasn’t underground. The city would have taken on the bulk of the cost, with Wake County paying only $4 million, plus annual operating expenses.

Commissioner Betty Lou Ward asked if there was still time to take the city up on its offer.

“Raleigh’s gone,” Durham said. “There’s no room in there for us.”

The city has already begun construction on the building, which does not include the space once allocated for the county.

Staff said they would explore the option of including the project in the city’s plan.

The five-year capital improvement plan outlines spending on capital projects over a five-year period. It doesn’t list projects that don’t have funding.

Other suggested projects are a new EMS station on District Drive in Raleigh, major building renovations throughout county-owned buildings and updating some of the information technology systems.

The proposed budget and capital improvement plan, will be presented at the Commissioners’ next meeting on Monday, May 19.

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