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New building in North Whidbey Fire and Rescue budget

With a new headquarters in hand, a replacement station on the northern edge of Whidbey Island could soon become a reality.

Leaders for North Whidbey Fire and Rescue want to replace the crumbling station located on Cornet Bay Road. It is one of the big-ticket items included in the district’s budget commissioners approved Tuesday night.

Chief Marv Koorn said the fire station, which was built in 1960, was examined and officials determined that it was best to build a new structure rather than fixing the current building. He estimated the cost of rebuilding a station on Cornet Bay Road could cost as much as $500,000.

The district’s $2.27 million devoted to capital outlay comprises approximately 46 percent of the district’s $4.9-million budget. Officials have more than $1.8 million devoted to building projects. They have been saving since 2003 to pay for upgrades to the district’s facilities.

In addition to the Cornet Bay station replacement, there are also plans to build a new station on Van Dam Road, where the fire district already owns property. A new station would replace the San de Fuca station on Highway 20 and the Zylstra Road station. Officials recently closed the San de Fuca station.

Koorn said the future of the Heller Road Fire Station has to be determined before work can start on the Van Dam Road project. Officials have to decide whether the former headquarters should continue to house engines and firefighters or if they should look for a better location in the area.

The North Whidbey Fire and Rescue District commissioners approved a budget and a 1 percent property tax increase. While they unanimously approved the budget, the tax increase was approved by a 2-1 vote with Bruce Carman and Jerry Goen approving the measure and TJ Lamont voting against it.

Koorn said the district’s tax levy next year will be slightly less than what was collected in 2011. The fire district collected $1,468,656 in 2011 and is expected to collect $1,468,132 in 2012. He said the district also receives income from Whidbey General Hospital, from renting space and by charging for car accident calls.

The fire district’s operations budget increased slightly to $1,436,950, which is up from $1,407,735 from the current year. Koorn cited increases in medical costs, retirement contributions and Labor and Industries costs as reasons for the increase in expenses.

He also hopes to set aside $150,000 for the building budget to save money for future projects.

The fire district spent $1.55 million to pay for the Island Title building on Midway Boulevard, which also serves as the district’s headquarters and officials want to continue building that fund up.

“We did it by not wasting money,” Koorn said of the district’s ability to save money to pay for construction projects.

 

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