In an effort to fund the county's matching share of the new $1.6 million Emergency Operations Center without a tax increase, the Board of Supervisors hopes to refinance the remainder of its $4 million in park debt along with other existing debt in the sanitation department and elsewhere.

County Administrator Benjie Coats said the county plans to issue up to $1.5 million in general obligation bonds to match its share of the EOC construction project and to fund the necessary new equipment to make it functional.

The EOC will have new 911 answering equipment, dispatching consoles, servers, fiber optics and other new technology.

Refinancing the park bond issue could save up to $100,000, Coats estimated.

By doing the overall restructuring at one time, the county will also save money in legal and consulting fees, among other areas, Coats said.

"This will make our long-term financing more economical in today's market," he said. "The bond market is at record low levels at this time. The money saved in the restructuring will help the county avoid a tax increase in dealing with the its matching construction portion and the equipment costs in the new EOC."

The county was awarded two matching grants to aid in funding the new facility.

A $976,800 grant was presented to the county by the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, on behalf of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

In addition, the county received a $233,267 federal matching grant to harden the exterior wall, roof, windows and doors.

The grants require a 25 percent match.

Bids for the new EOC will be open on March 14, during a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

The EOC, to be constructed off Chestnut Street near the county jail, will house 911 communications, administrative offices, a so-called "war room," support space and storage.

Supervisors are seeking five alternates in addition to the base bid, one of which includes converting a copy/sleep room into a safe room with 12-inch blocks filled with concrete and reinforcement added to the walls and ceiling. The safe room would have space to shelter up to 40 people.

The other alternates would:

• Harden the exterior wall, roof, windows and doors of the EOC to increase the wind survivability standards. This would include 12-inch reinforced concrete walls as opposed to the eight-inch concrete wall specifications on the base bid advertisement.

The additional concrete reinforcement would bring the EOC up to FEMA 361 project standards, making it "fully encapsulated and able to resist the most tremendous tornado" with winds greater than 200 mph, Emergency Management Director Jeff Mayo has said.

• Provide self-adhering ice and water shield over the concrete roof deck.

• Provide cabinets in the conference room, communications room and emergency operations center room.

• Provide an entry alcove instead of an entry canopy.

• Provide an emergency generator.

Mayo said the generator had to be advertised as an alternate because it was equipment and not part of construction.

Preliminary site work is under way for the new EOC, which is expected to take 180 days to complete once construction gets under way.