Franklin Countys First News

Commissioners approve lease for new communications tower

FARMINGTON - County commissioners unanimously voted to sign a lease agreement for space to build a tower to support emergency communications in northern Franklin County.

The lease agreement with the land-holding company Weyerhaeuser will provide space for a new tower on the Kibby Range in Kibby Township. The county would likely construct the tower using Tax Increment Financing money during next year's summertime construction period. The tower would be dedicated for first responder communications in northern parts of the county that currently have poor or no service.

"It's going to be a very valuable asset for communications in northern Franklin County," Hardy said.

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Tim Hardy noted that the county had been discussing putting a tower on Kibby Mountain as far back as 2012 as part of a federal grant, but that effort had fallen through after negotiations overran the grant's time frame. The new agreement would lease space from Weyerhaeuser at the initial cost of $1,200 per year. That cost would increase slightly over time, up to $2,100 in 2038.

Commissioners also received the preliminary draft Unorganized Territory budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Initially proposed at $1.17 million, the budget is under the LD1 cap, according to County Clerk Julie Magoon. It represents a $33,000 increase over the current fiscal year, with one of the bigger increases represented in the $22,000 increase in snow removal contracts that reached the end of their 5-year spans. One new, but relatively minor increase, was a $2,000 request from the Kingfield Library for U.T. residents using that facility.

The U.T. budget is paid for by taxpayers of the U.T. and is completely separate from the county budget process.

A public hearing on the U.T. budget will be held on Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. in Farmington.

In other business, commissioners approved a new three-year contract with the National Correctional Employees Union, which represents staff at the Franklin County Detention Center. The significant changes in the contract include an alteration to how personal time is accrued, as well as annual pay increases for corrections officers, supervisors and transport officers.

Commissioners also approved a pay raise for part-time dispatchers at the Franklin County Communications Center. There is a single part-time dispatcher that has been working since 2015 without an increase. Commissioners approved a rate at $1 less than the full-time dispatchers; for the current employee that would represent an increase from $14.76 per hour to $16.35 per hour.

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