EMA changes will save $37K

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, July 16, 2009

New estimates provided by the county commission are projecting nearly $40,000 in savings from the EMA and E-911 split, a figure far above the previous preliminary estimate.

In May, commissioners said the split operations of the jointly run emergency management agency and E-911 agency would save between $16,000 to $24,000 annually.

Previously, the two organizations shared office space, personnel costs — including a director — and other operational costs. By splitting the two, it left the EMA without a permanent director. On Monday, Susan Carpenter was named as the new EMA director.

County administrator Brenda Petty outlined the new savings Wednesday and said:

$31,261 will be saved by not replacing an assistant director.

$9,600 will be saved by not paying rent to the E-911 board for office space.

$3,600 will be saved by using the administration building’s copier and postage meter.

However, the move will also incur expenses, including:

$813 in additional costs for new director’s health insurance. (This is a cost previously paid by the E-911 board.)

$6,500 to relocate EMA equipment and antennas to the county administration building property.

All told, the county will save $37,149 for this year’s fiscal budget.

Petty said a new 50-foot EMA tower is being erected in the building’s courtyard, since it was cheaper to construct a new tower than to have a company break down the old tower and install it. The tower is directly in line with the EMA office. The base was installed last week, and the company is working to finish it, she said.

Work on the project is being performed by S&P Communications, she said.

“Jay Spurlin (the company owner) said it would be cheaper to purchase new antennas than to have his crew climb the tower at E-911 and remove the old ones to bring over here,” she said. “So, we start with all new outside equipment. Existing base radios (and other equipment) will be moved as soon as the tower and wiring are complete.”

Petty said after the first year’s initial cost to move the equipment, the county should save approximately $42,000 per year.

The exact date of when the move will be completed is unknown, but officials hope it is in time for Carpenter’s first day of work, which is July 27.