Proposed Carroll safety training center short on funding

The Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association says it needs an updated public safety training center to attract younger volunteers and provide a centralized training location for firefighters.

But for a proposed training center and apparatus storage facility to come to fruition the Board of Carroll County Commissioners will have to approve an additional $1.7 million in funding on the top of the $4.4 million already allocated for the project.

"We feel that that building meets the needs of the fire department services for the next 50 years," CCVESA President Dennis Brothers said Thursday at the Board of County Commissioners meeting.

The 13,000 square foot project, which includes an apparatus storage facility and classroom building, is proposed to be built off Kate Wagner Road in Westminster, where the existing training facility currently sits.

Commissioners have previously funded the classroom building at $2.9 million before adding $1.5 million totaling the $4.4 million commitment for classroom and apparatus buildings.

About $400,000 has been put toward design of the project and the developed plan shows that initial estimates were off.

County staff and CCVESA representatives presented their case for the need of additional funding Thursday to a skeptical board of commissioners.

Commissioners President Doug Howard said after the meeting that he was not concerned with the overall cost of the facility, but added that the board needs to be careful before approving an additional $1.7 million when the original estimate called for only $4.4 million.

Scott Moser, bureau chief of building construction, said material costs have risen and building code standards led to the increased price tag.

"When you start adding that together, the cost just crept up a little bit," he said.

The county has contracted the designs to Baltimore based architectural firm Manns Woodward Studios.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild said he believes the county should explore other options to build the facility after projected costs equate to about $310 per square foot.

By building both the apparatus storage building and the classroom building at the same time, the county would save 10 percent, according to Moser.

Brothers noted that fire and emergency medical service (EMS) calls have risen between five and four percent respectively over the past year.

"Our work continues to grow," he said.

Brothers believes the new training facility should be equal to that of a higher education facility.

"We are preparing folks, not only to do volunteer service, but possibly a career service," Brothers said.

Commissioner Haven Shoemaker said that he is a firm believer that this facility needs to be built help the fire departments attract and retain new members.

Commissioners were presented with four options Thursday:

• Allocate an additional $1.7 million to move both projects forward

• Allocate an additional $400,000 to just complete the classroom building

• Construct the apparatus storage building with current funding

• Delay the decision and make the project a part of the fiscal year 2015 CIP discussions

Commissioners Chief of Staff Steve Powell said this item will be on the commissioners agenda Sept. 19 for a decision.

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