Snoqualmie fire station funding $200K short

SNOQUALMIE - Though long finished, the new Snoqualmie Fire Station is not quite paid for.

On Sept. 12 the City Council is expected to ask for an additional $200,000 to pay for leftover construction costs. Finance officer Harry Oestreich recently stumbled across the shortfall, which follows an additional $500,000 shortfall the City Council dealt with earlier this year. Appropriations have already been made to cover that amount.

There are three reasons the construction costs turned out $700,000 higher than the bond moneys provided for, Oestreich said.

First, the station was 1,557-square-feet larger than the bond money was requested for. Voters approved a bond issue that stated the building would be 15,000-square-feet, but it ended up being 16,557-square-feet, which increased the cost of the station. Project manager and fire chief Bob Rowe said that when he was still in the design stages with the architects they had planned on a fire station with just three truck bays because the old River Street fire station was supposed to stay open. Later, the City Council decided to close that station creating the need for an additional bay at the new fire station.

Secondly, the construction got off to a late start due to site development problems. When construction did start a year after it was scheduled to begin, the building costs had increased.

Lastly, incorrect information was provided to Rowe as to how much was left to spend on the station and that difference was approximately $247,000.

"What had happened is that the amount had been spent out of the general fund rather than the construction fund, but the moneys from the bond issue were in the construction fund and so with the information that was provided to the project manager that $247,000 had not been taken into consideration," Oestreich said.

Rowe actually ended up only spending less than $200,000 of the money, thus saving about $47,000 in the long run. "He brought the project in under the dollar amount he had and so he did effect savings, it's just that he had a wrong number," Oestreich said.

The money to make final payments and cover appropriations will come out of the city's Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) revenue, which will take the fund down to almost zero.

"We built up the reserve in there and those reserves will need to be replenished," Oestreich said. "There will be potential impact. Capital projects that arise in the future for which the REET revenue could be used for will not get built until we have adequate revenue to cover future expenditures."

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