Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Station Plan Gains Ground Holland Bill Would Mandate $55 Million

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Station Plan Gains Ground Holland Bill Would Mandate $55 Million

Article excerpt

Byline: David DeCamp, Times-Union staff writer

********** CLARIFICATION July 18, 2001

A Jacksonville City Council subcommittee chaired by Councilman Jerry Holland will introduce a bill that would require the city to enact a plan to build new fire stations. A story on Page B-1 Friday said Holland will introduce the bill.

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Reacting to a report warning of impending service burdens, Jacksonville Fire Chief Ray Alfred has drafted a nearly $55 million plan to build and staff new and replacement fire stations in the city.

And City Councilman Jerry Holland likes the idea so much he wants to write the spending into city law.

"I think it would take some of the politics out of the station selection process," Holland said this week.

He plans to introduce a bill this month mandating that City Hall spend the money on the projects, though the funding source will not be specified. A two-thirds vote by the council would be needed to change the spending, if Holland's bill passes.

After discussing the bill with Mayor John Delaney, Holland said he's hopeful, though uncertain, of passage.

Alfred's proposal basically matches recommendations made by a consultant this year but adjusts the timing of station construction. In addition to two new stations Delaney found funding for this year, Alfred proposes two more stations be built by 2006; another 18 stations would be replaced. The proposal also includes $17 million to staff the stations.

While adding fire stations can be politically appealing, Holland's notion of mandating spending money for Delaney, the council and their successors is giving some in City Hall pause.

"I don't see how we could do that. I think before you lock something down, you should find the funding sources for it," said Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa, though he added it's too early to say whether Delaney's office will argue against the bill.

Council President Matt Carlucci said he's withholding judgment on Holland's proposal. While investing in public safety is appealing, Carlucci said, the city shouldn't put itself in a corner. …

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