News Column

Kettering fire stations to cost more

May 15, 2014

By Andy Sedlak, Dayton Daily News, Ohio

May 15--The city of Kettering will take loans from its general fund in order to complete its longstanding goal to build new fire stations.

"We'll pay cash for what we can," said City Manager Mark Schwieterman. "Then we'll loan money from the general fund to the EMS fund to make those payments. The EMS fund's annual revenue will be used to pay back the debt to the general fund."

Schwieterman acknowledged that may take time. The city will seek bids on two of four new fire stations beginning next month. But by the time the project is complete -- the last station likely won't be built until 2017 -- roughly $14 million or more may have been transferred to help fund the project.

In 2012, city council gave officials the ability to use the EMS fund to repay the general fund. That funding source, which accumulates revenue from transport services provided by the fire department, generates about $1.5 million every year.

"It could take well over a decade," Schwieterman said of repayment.

The new stations are part of a restructuring approved by council that would reduce the number of stations from seven to four, all of which will be new.

Schwieterman said officials originally estimated that the stations would cost between $2.3 million and $4.5 million each, but that was before plans were finished and designs were drawn. One of the new stations, on Far Hills Avenue, is expected to cost between $5 million and $6 million, according to the city.

A station on David Road will house the department's headquarters. That's part of the reason that it will cost more than $6 million to build.

In total, Schwieterman said the overall project will cost roughly $26 million.

Resident Ron Alban said the city hasn't been totally transparent about the changes. He questioned the amount of money needed for the project.

"It's confusing," he said after attending a council meeting Tuesday night, "and disappointing."

Lisa Crosley, who lives on Winding Way, agreed.

"As a business owner, I could not stay in business long if I didn't have some pretty clear projections about how much projects were going to cost," she said.

Schwieterman defended the city's approach.

"I don't believe we were misleading anybody," he said. "We have made changes to ensure the response time coverage to our residents."


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Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)

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