CES: Money could be better spent on service

Posted: Friday, April 21, 2006

The $1 million Central Emergency Services hopes to have reimbursed from the borough assembly would be better spent providing emergency response services in CES’s expanded coverage areas of Kasilof and Funny River than contributing to the construction of the new Emergency Operations Center, said Len Malmquist, chair of the CES board of directors.

“That would be a much higher priority,” said Malmquist, a resident of Soldotna.

He was not a member of the CES board that approved participation in the EOC project two years ago, and he said he could not speak for that board. Attending Tuesday’s meeting, he said he heard the comments of assembly members who, at least for now, seem less than willing to support reimbursement without a good deal of justification.

“Hopefully, we can provide that information to them,” Malmquist said. “As to whether it will proceed forward and be approved or not, I wouldn’t fathom a guess.”

When the possibility arose in January that CES might be able to opt out of the new building in favor of remaining in their current office spaces, there were good reasons to vote to do that, Malmquist said.

“First, when the original approval was made, the voters had only just approved the annexations (of Kasilof and Funny River),” he said. “They were present in the grand plan, but I didn’t think they’d come so soon.”

“Second, for a long time the plan has been that as the service area grew, the plan was to expand the existing facility,” he said.

What changed that, he didn’t know, but Malmquist said the current fire administration feels strongly that it would be able to operate more efficiently if it remained in the existing offices and eventually remodeled them. That project would likely be costly enough, he said, to require a vote of the public.

Malmquist served as fire chief prior to Chief Jeff Tucker’s term. The current chief is Chris Mokracek.

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