Aiken county’s 1% sales tax, that funds different projects around town, totals $49 million. At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Aiken Public Safety officers and community member happy to hear an unexpected $1.9 million dollars will be allocated to law enforcement, if voters approve on the ballot in November.
“We have substations around, and some of them are older, and they need some repairs, so that money can be used for that,” Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon told NewsChannel 6.
Since the new Department of Public Safety isn’t located downtown like the original, Mayor Osbon said a potential new substation could be built in the heart of the city.
Lt. Jake Mahoney with Aiken Public Safety explained the city currently has four substations: “Some of those substations were built in the late 80’s/ early 90’s, and those stations as well could use some renovations and updating.”
But Aiken public safety officers are most excited for their new headquarters. Southeastern Development is transforming the old Food Lion off of Beaufort Street into a facility double the size of the current one, which was built in 1975.
“An average desk may have a telephone, a desk lamp and maybe a type writer,” Lt. Mahoney said.
Not only has Aiken’s population grown, but advances in technology have changed the way people work, taking up more space and making it difficult for officers and firefighters to function in the 49,000 square foot space.
For example what was once a closet now houses 3 officers, as well as their files. And another closet– used for storage: “…For more than 130 employees. 89 officers, and over 30 firefighters,” Lt. Mahoney explained.
Up to 5 firefighters at a time sleep on bunks in a uni-sex room.
Aiken Public Safety is expected to start operating out of the new headquarters by April 2019.
NewsChannel 6’s Samantha Williams talked with the developer, Jason Long, who said the building’s facade is coming up, and duct work has started inside.
“You can;’t do too much for these men and women,” Mayor Osbon said. “They protect our city and make it the great place it is.”
People of Aiken can vote in November to weigh in on whether or not they agree with the proposed distribution of funds in that 1% sales tax.