Construction on the new county library in Frazier Park should have been completed in April, but building hasn't even started.

Now $3.4 million in state grants is in jeopardy because of the delay.

County officials are fighting to keep the state money. A big step, county officials said Thursday, will be firing architectural firm Harley Ellis Devereaux, which was supposed to design the new library.

County supervisors will be asked to terminate the agreement Tuesday.

Jeff Frapwell, head of the county's General Services Division, said the county "didn't get started as soon as we had hoped to hiring the architect."

But he said the firm, hired Jan. 24, 2006, took far too long to design the library.

"They have failed to make the progress that we think they should have," Frapwell said. "Within a year we should have had the facility designed, bid and out to construction."

A person who answered the phone at the firm's Bakersfield offices said he wasn't aware of the situation and the person who was, Ted Blockley, was not in the office this week.

County officials are moving to hire a new architect and are struggling to show the state they are moving forward as fast as possible.

Supervisors also are scheduled to approve a contract with the Kern County Fire Fighters union.

The contract will give firefighters a 4 percent raise retroactive to July 8, 2006.

Additional 4 percent raises will be handed out July 7, 2007, and July 5, 2008.

County firefighters hired after the contract is approved also will pay into their retirements as long as they are employed by the county. Current firefighters pay nothing after they have worked for the county for five years.

New firefighters will pay 100 percent of an "average employee contribution rate" determined by actuarial studies. Currently that amount is 11.27 percent of their salaries.

Firefighters can currently retire at age 50 with 3 percent of their of their highest year's pay for every year of county service -- up to 90 percent.

The contract also offers 2 or 4 percent "incentive" raises to firefighters who can maintain high physical fitness standards.

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