Fire Stations 11 & 12
Mayor McMillan’s budget would remove about 66% of the funding for a much needed Fire Station in the Exit 1 area (“Station 11”) and transfers that amount to build a Fire Station near Exit 8 (“Station 12”).
Station 11’s completion would be on indefinite hold.
I proposed an amendment that would return funding to build Fire Station 11 and treat Station 12 as a new budgeting need.
The amendment failed by a vote of 5-Yes/8-No. The Mayor voted “No” and former firefighter and the developer of significant number of properties around Exit 1, Councilman Burkhart voted “No.” I respect the democratic process of the vote, but I am perplexed at the confusing process that has taken place and still believe that the City should rapidly fulfill their commitment to building a Fire Station in the Exit 1 area.
Here are some facts:
- Fire Station 11 has been a Fire Department priority for several years.
- The City budget for FY 2013 (approved in July 2012) approved borrowing of $350,000 for a land purchase and design of Fire Station 11.
- The City budget for FY 2014 (approved in July 2013) approved borrowing of $1.44 million to build Station 11 and $290,000 for a fire truck at
- The Mayor’s budget for FY 2014 did NOT include any funding for firefighters to staff Station 11.
- I proposed an amendment to the FY 2014 budget to fund firefighter positions before the station would open. The Mayor cast the tie-breaking vote that killed my amendment.
- In 2013, a landowner in the Exit 1 area notified the city that he would donate land for Station 11.
- In October 2013, Hankook Tire announced that they were going to build a plant in Clarksville near Exit 8 within the Industrial Park. As part of the agreement with Hankook, the city is required to build a fire station (Station 12) in the Exit 8 area.
- The Industrial Development Board and the State of Tennessee agreed to provide part of the money to build Station 12.
- In December 2013, Mayor McMillan requested that $250,000 be reallocated from the $350,000 already approved for the land purchase of Station 11.
- On April 3, 2014, the City Council took action to borrow the money to build Station 11. The original construction process was authorized to begin in July of 2013.
- Also on April 3, 2014, the City Council was informed that that the Mayor has not finalized the land donation. So, now the Mayor has spent/redirected the money for Station 11 land before getting a clear title to the donated land.
- On May 5, 2014, the City Council received the Mayor’s proposed budget. Station 12 was listed as a new capital project that would require borrowing money. No mention or transfer of funding is shown for Station 11.
- On May 12, 2014, at the City Council budget workshop I asked the Fire Department Chief if Station 11 was going to be built? The Chief answered “not right away.” The Chief further stated that the City does not have the money to pay for the 36 fire fighters needed to staff Stations 11 and 12 if they were coming on line within the same 19-month period. So we now have the land, the fire trucks are here and we have the money to build Station 11, but supposedly we cannot afford the fire fighters in 2016.
- On May 29, 2014, before the City Council was about to vote on my amendment (refer to paragraph 2) to build and incrementally man both stations, the administration changed its story. They now claimed they cannot train 36 firefighters in such a short period of time to man both fire stations.
- Councilman Burkhart, who has been opposed to the Station 11 from the start, proposed moving Station 9 (a relatively new station on Holiday Drive) to the other side of the I-24. The Fire Chief disagreed due to response time issues. Spending another $1.5+ million sometime in the future to move a station that will not be within the needed coverage radius is no solution.
- Now, the Mayor states there are issues with the land that was donated, though she refuses to elaborate. Through additional research, I am advised that proposed price for prepping the site of Station 11 is more than $118,000.
- I also asked the Fire Chief if we found the money for firefighters, could he find a way to train them. The answer was “Yes.”
Since 2012 this city has been working toward building Station 11 in the Exit 1 area to meet public safety requirements. The fire station was approved for completion in 2014. The Mayor states she has not reneged on building the station and that the project continues to “move forward.”
However, when questioned, the Mayor states she has NO timelines, deadlines or even projections to show how things are “moving forward.” The McMillan administration openly admits it makes its plans and budgets 12 months at a time.
Being able to adjust to accomplish changing priorities, to prepare timelines and deadlines and looking further into the future than 12 months at a time are the prerequisites needed to lead our city.
After almost fours years in office, this Mayor’s concept of “moving forward” does not ever seem to arrive at a destination called “completion.”