Public Safety Committee chairman Randy Preston listens as Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish talks about turning the former Bookmobile into a mobile communications headquarters.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors will not be part of the future of the former Bookmobile.
Members of the Public Safety Committee voted 7-0 Aug. 13 to relinquish all rights to the former mobile library for the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, giving Franklin and Clinton counties the right to move to create a mobile communications center without them.
The vote came after the original resolution to support the mobile command center was defeated, 4-3, with supervisors again calling on the library organization to use the sale of the Bookmobile to fund their programs.
“That vehicle belongs to the library,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “They should keep it, sell it and offset their funds. Would it be nice to have, yes. Can we fund it, no.”
“Here they have this asset that they can sell to get some money and instead, they will be in here again asking for money at budget time,” Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said.
“This should be used to offset the costs of their budget,” Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell said. “They have $100,000 sitting there. Why can't they do something to positively affect their budget instead of negatively affecting our budget. If they can sell it, then they are going to put a lot of money into their budget and they will not have to come back to us for more money.”
“If they want to get rid of the bus and then to come back here and ask for more money is a call that they will have to make,” North elba Supervisor Roby Politi said.
Preston added that the organization should not expect any additional funding from the county, and may be lucky to see their funding even remain level.
“Essex County does not have the money to pay for this,” Preston said. “We have preliminary budget numbers for this year, and it is very bleak to see where we may be going. I think that this budget is going to be a bigger challenge than last year.”
Preston added that the work on the new radio system needed to be the top priority of the Emergency Services Department.
“We have a $10 million radio system that has been in the works for years and every day there is another hurdle that comes up with it,” he said. “Donnie's (Jaquish) full attention needs to be on this and the Bookmobile is a distraction.”
“We are putting a lot of resources into this radio system which is going to support our needs,” Connell added. “We are in a situation like this with our transportation department right now and we just have to start saying no.”
Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow argued that the transformation of the Bookmobile to a mobile command center was not supposed to cost Essex County anything.
“We will not have any money invested into the Bookmobile now nor at any time in the future,” Morrow said. “The resolution says no money on our part. Why should we stop the other counties from this if it is not going to cost us anything. I do not want to be a hinderance to the other two counties.”
Jaquish said the concern was that the CEF board had presented the transfer as an all-or-nothing deal.
“The issue is that the library board has told the three counties that all three must participate or the deal is off,” he said. “Non-participation on our part will lead them to call the whole thing off. I think that it is a good idea and the fire service believes that it is a good idea. We will respect the decision of the board. I don't want to fight this battle over and over again, but I want some closure to this.”
“Franklin is concerned that we will bill them back for our ownership in this and Clinton County just wants this ended,” Board Chairman Randy Douglas of Jay said. “I think that it would be in my best interest to sell the thing and split the money up between the three counties and use it for the libraries.”