VECC to open on schedule today

Visalia Emergency Communications Center (VECC) will house dispatch, fire admin, emergency operations and traffic management

@TheSunGazette

VISALIA – It isn’t often that you see major facility upgrades meet expectations and keep pace with timelines, but Visalia’s new emergency communications building has delivered on both. At 11 a.m. today, Wednesday, Sept. 20, the City of Visalia will hold a ribbon cutting and grand opening for its Visalia Emergency Communications Center (VECC) at 420 N. Burke St. in downtown Visalia.

Approved by the Visalia City Council a little more than two years ago, the VECC will be the permanent home for 911 Dispatch, Fire Administration, the City’s Emergency Operation Center, the Traffic Management Center, and the City’s secure Data Center for Information Services. The VECC is an 18,790 square-foot, state of the art, essential services facility that will enhance the operations provided by the city services housed at this location addressing space needs and efficiencies for today and into the future. At today’s event, Mayor Warren Gubler will introduce speakers who will address the importance of the new facility including City Manager Mike Olmos, Chief of Police Jason Salazar and Fire Chief Doug McBee.

With an estimated cost of $28 million, the VECC is a major investment for the City. The two-story structure will cost $8.3 million alone with another $1.1 million in electronics, $1.9 million in mobile contracts and nearly $3 million for the CAD/RMS software. The City will fund the project using $8.5 million in Civic Center reserve money and another $600,000 from the General Fund. The rest, about $20 million, will be financed over the next 15 years. The debt service on the financing will be paid for through a combination of Police Impact Fees, Measure T (public safety tax measure) and the General Fund.

The Convention Center’s existing debt was refinanced in 2015, which added an additional 10 years to the original debt but lowered the payment from $1.4 million to $0.7 million. The combination of the Convention Center debt plus the VECC debt creates a total debt service payment of $1.17 million, which is less than the original payment for the Convention Center.

The facility met its projected opening of September 2017.

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