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Council looks at using surplus for Skyline Drive fire station

Posted: March 12, 2014 - 3:42pm

Hearing on Monday that the city took in $400,000 more in revenues than it spent in 2013, the Homer City Council got back to basic services and passed two actions to support the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, including adding funds to build a heated, four-bay fire station on Skyline Drive at the northern edge of city limits.

On the consent agenda, the council moved forward on first reading and introduction an ordinance that would appropriate $15,000 from the fire depreciation reserve account and $83,000 from the general fund for the Skyline Drive station. 

The city already has $500,000 for the project, part of a grant the Alaska Legislature reallocated from an earlier, unused grant for Main Street and Sterling Highway intersection improvements. 

The council also passed an amended ordinance appropriating $10,890 for three new laptop computers for the fire department. The original ordinance would have paid for the ToughBook laptops out of the fire depreciation reserve, now at about $52,000. The amended ordinance takes the money out of the general fund reserve, a “rainy day” account the city keeps on hand that’s about three months of city expenses, an amount suggested by auditors.

At the Committee of the Whole meeting before the regular meeting, City Manager Walt Wrede gave the council some good news: in 2013, the city took in $400,000 more in revenues than it spent. 

In discussing the ordinance to add $98,000 to the Skyline Drive fire station project — essentially, adding one more truck bay — the council looked at if it should dip into the fire depreciation reserve or, as it did with the laptops, take money out of the general fund reserve.

“I won’t object to spending additional money,” said council member Gus VanDyke in supporting the ordinance to add money to the fire station project. “It’s one of those four core purposes I keep harping about, which is public safety.”

The Skyline Drive Fire Station would be unstaffed, but would garage four pieces of fire equipment: a reserve engine, a tanker-pumper truck, an ambulance and a wildland fire brush truck. Based in an area annexed in 2003, the Skyline Drive station would serve those more rural areas. It also would make it a downhill trip for a tanker-pumper, said HVFD Chief Bob Painter. Weighing 57,000 pounds, “That takes a lot of time to get up East Hill,” Painter said of the truck.

The ordinance to add money to the Skyline Drive fire station project goes up for a public hearing and second reading at the March 24 meeting.

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jokimball777
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jokimball777 03/12/14 - 06:57 pm
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great news

$400,000 extra we paid that the citizens get to use now right?

The city council has continually blamed the citizens of Homer for wanting things that they don't want to pay for.

So now that we have paid extra, I am sure the city council will now be asking the citizens of Homer what WE would like to do with the extra revenue.

Some have felt it incredibly cruel and heartless to close down the Boys and Girls club. Perhaps this could best be used to open it back up.

Perhaps this money could be used to rent an available building, like say Alice's, for a community center or a place for youth activities to locate.

Perhaps some of the money could be used to work on the Town Center parcel, making into a more usable Recreational and gathering space.

The city council has made a lot of decisions for the citizens of Homer, expensive decisions that most people did not want. It is time for the taxpayers of Homer to make the decisions. The city council is meant to govern, not rule.

treebarq
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treebarq 03/13/14 - 06:18 pm
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surplus

Homer needs a line item in every annual budget to supplement the broken water and sewer system. What's broken about it? Nothing if you're a wealthy retired couple with no kids at home -- works just fine. It's broken if you're a business or a family that uses more than a few hundred gallons a month. Highest rates in the state -- 4 times that of Soldotna or Kenai. It's only way to permanently fix this problem without having businesses and families having to bear the burden alone. And don't tell me you don't think you should have your tax money pay for water you're not hooked up to. If you don't want city services move out of the city limits. And the last I checked, I have to pay borough prop tax to send your kids to school unless again you're a wealthy retired couple....

treebarq
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treebarq 03/13/14 - 06:18 pm
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surplus

Homer needs a line item in every annual budget to supplement the broken water and sewer system. What's broken about it? Nothing if you're a wealthy retired couple with no kids at home -- works just fine. It's broken if you're a business or a family that uses more than a few hundred gallons a month. Highest rates in the state -- 4 times that of Soldotna or Kenai. It's only way to permanently fix this problem without having businesses and families having to bear the burden alone. And don't tell me you don't think you should have your tax money pay for water you're not hooked up to. If you don't want city services move out of the city limits. And the last I checked, I have to pay borough prop tax to send your kids to school unless again you're a wealthy retired couple....

jokimball777
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jokimball777 03/14/14 - 08:12 am
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to treebarq

Look at the administration costs to find out why water/sewer is so high.

Demand that the city attempt to save money, they aren't even trying. They seem to be interested in driving anyone that is not rich out of Homer. As the city council members have previously said, it will only get more expensive to live here and it is not their job to make it cheaper.

If they aren't working to make this a better community for everyone, what are they doing?

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