FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners agreed Tuesday to let an architectural firm expand the design of a new county building to include all departments.
The initial plan was to design a building to house the Sheriff’s Department and dispatch center. The plan grew to include the Emergency Management Agency and commissioner and administrative offices.
The public safety building was to be a one-story, rectangular building that would be energy-efficient and easily expanded. It would be built on county property on County Way off Route 4, where the Sheriff’s Department and jail are located. The cost was estimated at about $3 million.
Ideas evolved to have the Franklin County Courthouse taken over by the state to combine district and superior court functions and to move the remainder of the county departments to the new building. It would become an L-shaped complex, including an addition to house the deeds and probate offices.
Noel Smith of Smith Reuter and Lull Architects estimated the cost of the larger building to be about $5.5 million and subject to change.
If the county moved all of its staff to a new building, it would make it easier for the state to renovate the courthouse and consolidate court services. That would relieve county taxpayers of being liable for more than $1 million in renovations needed at the courthouse, Smith said.
Just to upgrade the mechanical and electrical systems at the courthouse would cost about $600,000, he said.
The proposal to get all county staff, except the District Attorney’s Office, out of the courthouse was generated by the county’s Budget and Building committees.
John Cleveland, a consultant for the firms, who has been looking at finances for the project, said the state court system has listed the Franklin County Superior Courthouse as its fourth priority.
In other business Tuesday:
· Commissioners approved Miranda Butterfield as a full-time employee in the District Attorney’s Office. She has completed her probationary period.
· The commission voted to accept Chief Deputy Raymond Meldrum’s recommendation to hire Brad Timberlake of Jay as a full-time dispatcher. Timberlake was a dispatcher in Jay before that center closed and has most recently worked as a dispatcher at the Livermore Falls Police Department.
· Commissioners voted to buy an all-terrain, side-by-side vehicle with a platform and trailer for $15,202 from Rev It Up Sports Shop in Rangeley. Sheriff’s Detective Tom White said that bids were sent out to the three businesses that carry this type of vehicle and only one was returned. The cost is covered by a grant of federal money for protection of crimes against the border.
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