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Council approves EOC expansion, equipment purchases

By Staff | Oct 1, 2012

Despite the protestations from some citizens during public input, the city council on Monday passed a pair of consent items that tally more than $1 million.

Council passed 7-1 a measure to spend more than $800,000 to expand the Emergency Operations Center,.

Mayor John Sullivan cast the dissenting vote.

More than $380,000 will be spent on the purchase of four trailers, an excavator, three backhoes and a wheel loader after council voted 6-2 to approve that spending.

The EOC expansion will be paid for through the county’s All-Hazards fund, which goes specifically for projects like EOC.

“With construction costs the way they are, there’s no better time to do it,” Fire Chief “Bill” Van Helden said.

Still, Sullivan questioned why the EOC couldn’t be placed in the police building, with the surplus space it has.

Van Helden explained the location is impractical, given the expected expansion of the department in the future.

The purchase of the equipment drew more discussion, with several citizens protesting the idea of spending more money.

“Nobody buys this equipment anymore. It’s foolish. They come with a one-year warranty,” said resident Dan Shepard. “Most construction companies rent or lease. Some of that equipment looks stagnant. The sun does damage.”

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz agreed, saying leasing might be the way to go since he was suspicious as to whether the city had anyone who could readily take care of the equipment or if the city departments were able to share the equipment.

“The city doesn’t care for its equipment well. We have a problem sharing in Cape Coral,” Chulakes-Leetz said before asking City Manager John Szerlag, “Do we have staff to maintain the equipment or do we contract it out?”

Szerlag deferred to Finance Director Victoria Bateman, who said they had two bays for heavy equipment and people certified to maintain it.

As far as sharing equipment, Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pohlman said returning equipment in the same shape it was when borrowed is not a problem, nor was it related to Cape Coral.

Sullivan said he spoke to someone in the field, who said that loaders and backhoes should last 40 years or more with proper care, and joined Chulakes-Leetz in rejecting the consent item.

In other business, the city voted unanimously to waive the procurement procedures for the purchase of fuel from multiple vendors, including two non-contract suppliers.

Chulakes-Leetz said the city uses about 2 million gallons of fuel per year and that it was an urgent issue because police and fire couldn’t do much without it and if one of their suppliers couldn’t deliver, it could put them in an emergency.

The city also passed unanimously a resolution establishing a fundraising tool and a dedicated account for pedestrian and bicycle paths within Cape Coral.