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Kasilof fire station could be built by fall

Posted: Sunday, June 04, 2006

A fire station in Kasilof is set to take another step toward becoming a reality when the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets June 6.

Members are expected to introduce an ordinance authorizing use of $2.5 million from a general obligation bond sale approved by Central Emergency Service Area voters last fall.

Ordinance 2005-19-54 would get a public hearing and final action June 20, the day of the bond sale, in order to allow for construction as soon as possible.

The money generated by the bonds will also be used to renovate the fire station in Funny River.

Property taxes will retire the bond debt. Voters last fall also approved increasing the service area mill rate by .15 mill if necessary. However, the borough administration is not seeking a property tax increase in the service area for fiscal year 2007.

The assembly is expected to adopt the fiscal year 2007 borough budget on June 6. Mill rates for the entire borough and its 13 service areas must be set officially by June 16.

According to CES Assistant Chief Gordon Orth, the station’s design will mirror that of a station built for the Kachemak Emergency Service Area — essentially a box of metal construction containing some 6,000 square feet that will provide three, double-deep bays.

“Initially, it will have a tanker-pumper (3,000 gallon capacity), a medical response unit and a wildland response vehicle,” Orth said.

The tanker-pumper still must be built and delivery isn’t expected before March of next year, Orth said. A reserve engine capable of holding 500 gallons would likely be assigned to the Kasilof station until the new vehicle arrives, he said.

The medical unit may be a Suburban-type vehicle that would allow first-responders to reach victims quickly. Until an ambulance is available, other stations will provide for the actual transport of victims, Orth said.

The wildland response vehicle will carry between 500 and 700 gallons and wildland firefighting equipment. This piece of equipment is especially important to the Kasilof area where many homes are built in wooded landscapes, Orth noted.

The design contract went out to bid last week, he said. The bond sale will occur June 20 and presuming the money is then made available, the construction contract would be put out for bid, probably by late June. Construction of the new station along the Sterling Highway about a mile south of the Kalifornsky Beach Road intersection could begin by the middle of July, Orth said.

The KESA station near Homer took about four months to build. Orth said CES is anticipating about the same construction schedule for the new Kasilof station.

CES is in the middle of a volunteer recruitment drive for Kasilof and Funny River, Orth said.

“If there are people interested in getting involved, that’s the help we are going to need,” he said.

In its fiscal year 2007 budget, CES has requested staffing for the Funny River station, and intends to budget for permanent staffing for the Kasilof station next year.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

n The assembly is expected to approve the proposed $58.8 million fiscal year 2007 borough budget, including nearly $36.8 million for schools.

Peninsula schools are in line for $28.9 million in contributions from local tax revenues plus another $7.88 million in in-kind services. The total district budget will hit nearly $112.3 million, about $104.4 million of that covering general operations with the rest going for maintenance, utilities, insurance, custodial services and auditing fees.

School district figures may be adjusted slightly higher later this year to account for state budget increases in student allocations, according to borough Finance Director Craig Chapman.

Other parts of the budget ordinance detail amounts needed to cover debt service, solid waste handling and capital projects in the school district and service areas, among others. Insurance and litigation costs will run almost $3.5 million, while another $3.23 million will go into a health insurance reserve fund. The borough proposes spending almost $677,000 to replace equipment.

· Grace Merkes, of Sterling, has made a reconsideration motion to bring an ordinance back to the table that would give $1 million to Central Emergency Services to reimburse the service area for their earlier participation in financing construction of the new emergency operations center. The CES board, originally willing to occupy part of that structure nearing completion on Wilson Lane in Soldotna, voted in January to seek reimbursement so administrative offices could remain where they are, in nearby Station 1.

The issue was controversial, and the assembly voted 3-6 on May 16 against reimbursement. Merkes, who voted in favor, asked for reconsideration.



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