Town OKs West Vail fire station
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – Fire Chief Mark Miller took a deep sigh of relief Tuesday night when the Vail Town Council approved a new West Vail fire station – a station town officials have talked about building for nearly three decades.
” I’m ecstatic,” Miller said.
Miller has come to Town Council meetings several times with presen-tations about the need for the fire station and different options for funding it. But as the town’s budget crunch became more apparent, he feared the fire station would get pushed aside once again.
” This is not a personal agenda of mine,” Miller said. ” It is my profes-sional objective as a fire chief to stand before you and say we need this fire station, period.”
The Vail Town Council saw the urgency as Judy Camp, from the town’s Finance Department, told members about the costs of building it now versus deferring it.
A federal grant that would help pay for hiring three new firefighters will be available as of Jan. 1. The town would lose out on about $ 50,000 if it didn’t accept the grant and hire the firefighters on that date, even though the date is earlier than the firefight-ers are actually needed.
Camp also told the town that it could pay for the project now, with cash reserves and some other funds, rather than bond it through certifi-cates of participation, which would save the town $ 4.2 million over 20 years in financing costs, she said.
Council members also agreed that it’s time to build the station in the name of public safety.
” We have the resources to do this now,” Councilman Farrow Hitt said.
Council members agreed paying for the station with cash is the way to go. Mayor Dick Cleveland said that town reserves are so healthy because of prudent budgeting throughout the years, and a fire station that would help the town’s public safety is the exact kind of project for which reserve funds should be used, he said.
The town unanimously agreed to approve the fire station, but whether it would fund it at the proposed $5.6 million is still up for debate. Councilman Andy Daly said he thinks the town could adjust some of the designs and materials used and save about 20 percent of the cost.
That debate, combined with questions over various capital projects on the 2010 budget, forced council members to table the 2010 budget approval until the Oct. 20 meeting.
Members asked staff to figure out whether it could cut down items like $ 439,000 in Red Sandstone Park safety improvements, $ 67,000 for streetlight improvements and other capital items.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.