You recall, don’t you, how, by approving Measure C, Alameda voters endorsed spending $4.5 million to build a new emergency operations center and a new state-of-the-art fire station no. 3?
Oh, that’s right. Measure C failed.
Then you must recall how, after Measure C was defeated, City staff placed the proposal for the EOC and fire station no. 3 – whose cost somehow had risen to $6.8 million since the election – on Council’s regular agenda and got the go-ahead from them?
Oh, sorry, that didn’t happen, either.
It therefore may come as a surprise that the proposal is alive and well – and costing the City money. Shame on you for not paying attention to the details in the capital improvement budget.
The capital projects budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013 called for spending $315,000 on “design [of] a new fire station.” All of this money was to come from the general fund.
The capital projects budget for the next fiscal year proposes to spend $600,000 to “[p]rovide the design, bidding and project management activities necessary to replace the City’s Emergency Operations Center and seismically unsafe Fire Station No. 3.”
Of this amount, $254,000 is identified as a “carryover” from FY 2012-13. Ordinarily, this would refer to funds that were appropriated but not spent, but given staff’s’ distinctive way of using the term, it’s hard to be sure. Unfortunately, the financial statements don’t show how much money was actually spent on the EOC and fire station no. 3 proposal in FY 2012-13 – or, indeed, in any prior year. In any event, the rest of the money budgeted for FY 2013-14 is coming from Citywide Development Fees ($100,000) and the Facility Maintenance Fund ($246,000).
According to staff’s project description, “site feasibility work” was completed last year. “Design, bidding and project management work is next.” So, to take the most conservative figure, it appears that $661,000 will have been spent on the new EOC and fire station no. 3 by the end of the next fiscal year before the first shovel ever touches the ground.
And, of course, this spending will occur without Council ever having taken a vote specifically authorizing the project. It can be argued that, by approving the capital improvement budget, Council approved every line item in it. And there is little doubt that, were this Council asked to OK spending money on a project dear to the hearts not only of City Manager John Russo but also of the members of IAFF Local 689, the vote may very well be unanimous.
But it does seem a little odd that, with the front door big enough to drive a truck – even a fire truck – through, staff is taking the backdoor route.
FY 2012-13 capital improvements budget: Capital Proj (S)
FY 2013-14 capital improvements budget: 2013-06-11 FY 2013-4 & FY 2014-15 CIP budget
“Fire station plan proceeds”: The Alamedan (October 2, 2012), http://thealamedan.org/blog/short-takes-fire-station-plans-proceed