Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Dowell discusses the department’s potential 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 fiscal year budgets Tuesday at Lebanon Town Hall. Staffing the city’s new fire hall on State Route 109 is one of the bigger budget items this year.
The Lebanon City Council turned its focus to the future Lebanon Fire Hall #4 on Tuesday and focused on the monetary obligations for the hall.
Construction of the fire hall, to be located on E. Division Street and State Route 109, is expected to begin later this month.
“From the early on stages of the discussions of this fire hall, everything was way under estimated on purpose – the cost of the fire hall, staffing and everything else – because it was bound with a lot of things. Now that we’re getting ready to break ground, we’re dealing with realities,” Lebanon Finance Commissioner Robert Springer said.
Springer said it would cost about $750,000 to staff the station with nine full-time and six part-time people, and just more than $1 million to staff the station with 15 full-time people.
“We’ve got excellent equipment moving into it and I can appreciate every thing, but the [nine full-time and six part-time workers] we got put in there for the staffing is fine if you want to do that. We will make it work. It’s not what I prefer, but we can make it work,” said Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Dowell, who said the set up would put the station about three people under his preferred amount.
Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash said the council could accept the personnel this year – citing a tight budget year – and revisit the issue next year, which he said is likely.
“I don’t want to be on record saying this is going to be the staple for it all because it’s not. It’s not going to fix every problem,” Dowell said.
Dowell said it would take about 300 days to build the fire station and said his concern with staffing revolves around the potential for new businesses and residential neighborhoods to spring up over the next few years.
Councilors Chris Crowell and Joey Carmack questioned if the staffing should be an immediate need and inquired about the department’s ability to maintain coverage.
“We’re going to get what we need to keep the city from burning down. Period,” Crowell said.
“Your house is not going to burn because I can assure you we’ve been everywhere from Five Oaks to Indian Hills to Bluebird and everywhere else,” said Dowell, who also noted majority of businesses, along with all schools, on the western end of the city have a sprinkler system.
The council also discussed budgets for the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center, human resource department, Lebanon Municipal Airport and the Jimmy Floyd Family Center on Tuesday.