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Commissioners OK CenCom measure

"County voters will get the opportunity to make their voices heard on a new, $10.5 million 911 emergency dispatch facility on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.The Kitsap County Commissioners unanimously approved placing the measure on the ballot at their Monday, Aug. 27, meeting.If taxpayers approve the measure, property owners will pay an additional 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for five years. The measure needs a simple majority of votes to pass.In return, county residents would get a seismically stable, multi-storied, 18,800-square-foot building for the county's Central Communications (CenCom) and Emergency Management departments.The building would be part of the new county Emergency Services Readiness Center at the National Guard Armory in west Bremerton. The center already is being used for training by the various fire services, including Navy and Washington State Ferries fire personnel.The new building will be built on bedrock said Phyllis Mann, executive director of the Department of Emergency Management.The current dispatch center, built in 1976, suffered damage and cracks in the Feb. 28 Nisqually earthquake.The building could be at risk for failure or partial collapse in an earthquake, CenCom director Ron McAffee said. If the quake had been one mile less than 30 (miles below ground) it could have been another story.The old building just south of the Warren Avenue Bridge was designed to last 10 years. Its decade of life expectancy expired 15 years ago, McAffee said.CenCom's workforce has grown from 19 to 56 today, not all out on the floor at the same time, McAfee added.The new building was designed for 20 years of future growth, he said. If it gets built, CenCom won't have to hunt for more property, we can just add on to the existing building when further expansion is necessary, according to McAffee.He said the actual facility, which would be completed in 2003 if the levy is approved, only costs $4.1 million to build. The rest of the cost is for equipment.A communications tower, for example, would cost $300,000. Each of the 16 consoles planned for the building, with radio and telephone equipment, costs $70,000. Commissioner Jan Angel of South Kitsap said she noted problems with the current equipment when she had the opportunity to watch a dispatcher take a call recently.He hit the button three times. I thought, what if it had been (for) one of you guys? she said. "

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