MALONE — Franklin County is still debating whether to join Clinton County in converting an unused bookmobile into a mobile-command center for emergencies.
The Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System can no longer afford to operate the vehicle and wants to give it to the three counties to share since all three paid for it.
Clinton County has already committed to refurbishing the bookmobile into an easily movable communications vehicle, which is estimated to cost about $4,000 a year to register, insure and maintain.
A new vehicle would cost at least $500,000, a luxury each county agrees it cannot afford.
The equipment to outfit the repurposed bookmobile would come from grant funds each county received as part of its share of U.S. Division of Homeland Security money.
WANTS LEGAL DOCUMENT
Essex County is also still undecided on whether to participate, and that reluctance has Franklin County legislators concerned.
They feel if they sign on with Clinton County and Essex County doesn’t, Essex County will want all or a portion of the money back that it put in for the bookmobile’s purchase.
Clinton County contributed $86,680 for the original purchase, Essex County paid $51,595, and Franklin County’s share was $68,106, based on population.
“We can’t afford it,” said Guy “Tim” Smith (D-Fort Covington), adding that he wants to see a legal document that clears the county of any such payment if Essex County does not come aboard.
Some legislators are also concerned that the annual maintenance costs will exceed the $2,000 estimated by County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost.
“We can’t spend any more than $2,000 of taxpayer money,” Smith said.
But Marc “Tim” Lashomb (R-Malone) reminded legislators that if the mobile-command center were created and had to be used in a disaster situation, the hours logged could be reimbursed at $800 a day, which would pay for the annual costs and any future repairs.
The county’s Fire Advisory Board and some fire departments support the idea, and some legislators suggest each department contribute $100 from their budgets toward the cost.
The bookmobile had been driven about 100,000 miles as of September 2011, when it was taken off the road. It would be housed at the Franklin County Highway Department garage and registered by Clinton County.
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