ESD plans a larger station
The Cypress Creek Volunteer Fire Department is proceeding with plans to build a fire station after bolstering declining revenues.
Initially, construction of station No. 23 was scheduled to begin in the first quarter of the year, but Fire Chief Richard Lieder said a review of down-the-road finances brought a temporary halt to the project.
"We couldn't execute the project with the funds we had," he said. It's not good to start a project and then know three years later that funding would be inadequate, he added.
The decrease in revenues started in 2009 as property valuations began to decline. Lieder figured the department has seen a total decrease in annual revenue of $425,000 since the decline started.
Projected tax rolls for 2012 show property values going down again, he said, and the department facing a loss of $185,000 in revenue. The department's annual operating budget is $2.2 million, he said.
What changed the financial picture for the department was voter approval May 14 giving the Harris County Emergency Services District No. 13 the authority to raise the tax rate to the maximum allowed by state law - 10 cents per $100 of valuation. The district now levies a 5-cent tax rate per $100 of property valuation to support the fire department.
In May, ESD President Ben Henderson said, "We anticipate that we probably won't assess the full dime anytime soon."
Henderson said he thought the tax rate might be raised by 2 cents to 3 cents initially.
Lieder said cash flow projections show money will be available next January for the station, which will be under construction by then.
The schedule now calls for the $2.9 million project to break ground in late September or October. Lieder anticipates construction will take a year to complete.
The general contractor is Durotech of Houston.
Lieder and Ricardo Martinez, project manager for Joiner Architects, which is working with HCESD No. 13, both spoke positively about a new process being used for the project: construction manager at risk.
Lieder said other area departments have used the process, which they said saved them money and gave them more control over the project. Instead of a general contractor bidding the whole project for a certain price, the new process gives the district control over selection of subcontractors, Lieder said.
The 11,900-square-foot station No. 23 will be built on three acres owned by the department and will be double the size of the current station, according to Lieder. The site is a half-mile from the current station at 9860 Cypresswood Drive.
The department has outgrown the facility, he said, and Cypress Creek has encroached to about 20 feet from the station.
Other factors motivating the construction project are the age of the facility and low construction costs.
Lieder said construction costs now reflect a $600,000 decrease compared to several years ago and said the project will save taxpayers money.
Station 23 was dedicated in May 1992 after the former station, which opened in the early 1980s, was closed at Schroeder and Texas 249, he said.
"This should be the last relocation," he said.
Thirty volunteers man the station.
For information or to volunteer, call 281-894-0151.
Local Advertising by PaperG