Administration opts out of moving to new emergency center borough is building

CES wants its $1 million back

Posted: Sunday, April 02, 2006

The board of directors of Central Emergency Services says service area residents would be better served if CES’ administrative offices remained at Station 1 in Soldotna instead of moving to the new emergency response center under construction on Wilson Lane just down the block.

The CES board has requested the return of the $1 million the service area contributed to the construction project. On Tuesday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will consider introduction of an ordinance which would accomplish that transfer.

Borough Mayor John Williams said Thursday he will include in the 2007 budget a request to spend $1 million in general fund money to replace the CES money. Also, as part of the borough’s effort at consolidation, Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Program offices will move out of leased space into the new response building and pay the borough the $3,600 a month they now pay in rent.

Williams said he does not believe the $1 million from the general fund would run up against the voter-approval requirement created by Proposition 4 last fall. That proposition requires that capital expenditures of $1 million or more go to the voters for approval.

“This project was already approved and ongoing prior to the Prop 4 vote,” Williams said. “In discussions with our legal and finance departments, they don’t seem to feel there is a problem. No one has tripped any switches.”

Borough Attorney Colette Thompson later confirmed that because the project was funded and under way prior to the approval of Prop 4, the substitution of general fund dollars for CES funds would not fall under its provisions.

The situation might be different, she commented, if the money represented an increase in funding.

In late 2004, the assembly approved funding for the response center project with money from three sources: $2.47 million in federal grants, $1 million from the CES fund balance and $239,835 from the borough’s general fund. The CES board approved the service area’s contribution at its November 2004 meeting.

Almost a year earlier the assembly approved a resolution supporting the concept of a multiuse facility.

At that time it was anticipated the new building would house E-911 dispatch, a borough Emergency Operations Center and CES administrative offices.

That resolution authorized then-Mayor Dale Bagley to plan such a facility on borough-owned land on Wilson Lane. In June 2005, C & S Construction was awarded the contract to build the two-story, 9,169-square-foot structure after submitting a bid of just over $3 million. The building is due for completion in August.

In January of this year, however, the CES board voted to opt out of their participation in this project.

“The board of directors believes that the taxpayers of the service area would be better served by having the administrative offices and training center remain at its current location, station number 1,” CES Fire Chief Chris Mokracek told the assembly in a March 22 memo.

Mokracek said that the board felt administrative and operational continuity would be compromised if the administrative offices relocated down the block to the new emergency response center.

Station number 1 is scheduled for remodeling in 2008 and the board believed that administration offices and training space could be included in the remodel job, he said.

The measure is Ordinance 2005-19-47.

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