CKFR looking at costs, may close Tracyton station

Maintenance costs in the Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue District may force the closure of Station 44 in the Tracyton area, fire commissioners were told Monday.

Station 44, an all-volunteer station, and the area is adequately covered by Station 41 on Military Road and Station 45 on Trenton Avenue in the Ilahee area, according to administrators and Ronny Smith, vice president of the Firefighters Local 2819.

Assistant Chief Jay Lovato said safety standards at Station 44 could cost upward of $500,000. Lovato ran Monday’s meeting because Chief Scott Weninger was out of town.

“To find another location, buy property and build a new station would be close to $1.5 million,” Lovato told commissioners. “Moving 44 into 41 is a prudent move considering the fact that it would only cost about $39,000 to make that move.”

The discussion about closing Station 44 and maintenance costs in general came during a work study session on the district’s proposed 2014 budget.

The $16 million budget will continue to be discussed by commissioners at a meeting at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 during which time there will be a public hearing  and commissioners will take comments from residents of the district.

A final budget is expected to be passed later in November or December.

The draft budget includes $13.3 million in tax revenue from both the EMS levy and the district’s regular operation levy. The budget doesn’t include levy increases. However, commissioners discussed going out to voters for increases in 2014 and 2015.

The district has lost more than $1 million in tax revenue because of a drop in assessed valuation of property in the district, Lovato reminded  commissioners who agreed.

“The economy has not been kind to us,” said commissioner Dave Fergus, commission chairman.

The budget is based on other income as well, including $1.9 million in excise tax, state contributions, contracts for services and ambulance billing collections, which is the bulk of that at $1.3 million.

On the expense side of things, $13 million of the planned $16 million in expenses are related to personnel. Salaries are listed at $7.1 million, plus another $2.5 million in benefits. Overtime is expected to cost about $500,000 next year. Costs of operations, including utilities, uniforms, janitorial services, printing and publications, professional memberships and election costs are listed at $1.19 million.

Capital expenses are set at $421,113. That amount includes equipment purchases, computer purchases, tires, ladders, nozzles, and medical supplies.

The repair and maintenance budget is set at $448,274 and includes a number of projects at a number of fire stations, and routine maintenance such as plumbing, electrical and painting repairs. There is another $166,173 in the budget for training in 2014.

The budget is a balanced budget, Lovato said. He said the budget protects staffing at the same level and adds one administrative position at a cost of $30,000. Commissioners also reviewed an organizational chart that Lovato said reflected some duties changing and some personnel reporting to different supervisors.

He said there was $1.3 million in projects on the district’s “wish list” that had to be cut from the 2014 budget because there wasn’t money to cover them.

“We had to cut a lot of things,” he said. “This is the hardest budget we’ve had to put together in all my years at CK.”

Commissioners questioned the $500,000 in the 2014 budget for overtime. Several of them noted that that was the same amount in the current year budget, however the overtime this year was already at $700,000.

“I don’t want to say I don’t believe you, but…” said Fergus, “if you tell us that you can keep it to $500,000, then that’s our expectation.”

Lovato said there were things underway including changes to the limited duty program, the sick leave policy and the FMLA (Family Medical and Leave Act) that could positively affect the overtime, but he said negotiations with the union on those items were ongoing.

“It’s delicate,” he said. “So I don’t want to say much.”

As far as maintenance costs, the commission asked that the administration come back to them at the Nov. 25 meeting with a more detailed facilities maintenance plan.

“We need to know how maintenance paces out over the next 10 years,” said Commissioner Dick West.

And commissioners said any decision about closing Station 44 will need to include a public comment time and that should be done within the next two months.

“We need to make sure we have plans in place internally, and then externally, we need to meet with the public on this,” Fergus said.

Union Leader Smith said he thought closing Station 44 made good sense.

“It’s not a necessity to have it open,” he said. “What we really need to do is look at maintenance of all our stations. A lot of things have to be addressed. We’ve had plans in place before, but they’ve not been adhered to.

“Right now we have buckets hanging at Station 51 to catch the leaks. The current chief (Weninger) is dedicated to making maintenance a priority and we just need to do it now before things get any worse.”


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