FromBuilding Committee (F. Baruth, M. Abele, F. Burger, T. McCoy, C. O’Hara, S. Demeter)

Re:  Proposed building program

Date:  November 21, 2015

The following steps constitute a complete outline of the process necessary to initiate construction of a permanent fire station. For each step, the responsible entity and the estimated cost are identified.

1.  Substantially revise the “Building Program Requirements” document previously submitted to Suncoast Architects before the revision in our staffing system and the revisions in our equipment plans. Include scale sketches of the needed spaces and building footprints for the first and second floor. Committee and Chief Demeter, $0.

2.   Use the scaled sketches and contractor visits to Palm Island fire station to obtain expressions of interest and approximate cost estimates for the construction of the building (excluding site preparation costs) from island contractors. Committee, $0.

3.  Identify specific financing options and costs that would include any remaining balance on the note for the purchase of the lot (currently $37,500). Study compatibility of financing terms with expected and proposed future budgets. Committee and Chief Demeter,  $0.

4.  Board members visit county fire station on Palm Island.

5.  Formal Board vote to accept revised building Program Requirements recommended by Committee and to authorize steps 6 to 10 below.

6.  Apply to DEP for “informal wetlands determination” (per recommendation of Chuck O’Hara).  $100.

7.  Request conceptual site plan from CES Engineering. $3,650.

8.  As part of conceptual site plan development, request exception/modification from SWFWMD for storm water retention and wetland regulations.  $___________.

9.  Obtain rough estimates from island contractors for cost of site preparation. $0.

10.  Obtain agreement with Hill interests concerning final location of Hill access easement and cost sharing for access road site plan, engineering, construction, and wetland mitigation.

11.  Request “Special Exception” from County under zoning ordinance and request waiver of 5-foot landscape buffer requirement for north property line.  $1,200 (?).

12.  Formal Board vote to authorize steps 13 to 16 below.

13.  Direct Suncoast to restart preparation of “architectural concept study” based on new Building Program Requirements Document and architects visit to Palm Island fire station. $3,400 minus $1,200 already paid equals $2,200.

14.  Hold pre-app meeting with county Building Department, Fire Marshall, and Fire Chief.

15.  Request construction drawings from Suncoast.  $16,6000.

16.  Obtain mortgage commitment.

17.  Board vote to enter contract for construction and mortgage agreement. By-laws require 45 days notice of Board meeting to vote on proposal to borrow more than $50,000.

18.  Obtain necessary building permits. 

The remainder of this report separately addresses each of the steps #1 through #8 above.

1. The staffing and equipment decisions made by the Board during the last year and a half have made it possible to determine accurately the long-term building needs for equipment storage and staff accommodations. Specifically, the building must have a ground floor that will house three major vehicles (two fire trucks and the EMS Polaris) and miscellaneous equipment (pumps, hoses, bunker gear, etc.) equivalent in space to a fourth vehicle. The second floor must provide comfortable overnight accommodations for a maximum of two professionals during their 24-hour or 48-hour on-duty shifts.  (If the Chief and/or other personnel chose to live on-island, they will provide their own personal off-duty residential accommodations as they would if they were employed at the usual off-island fire station.)

These equipment storage requirements and staff accommodation requirements are virtually identical to those for which the county fire station on Palm Island is designed. In addition, the Palm Island station has already confronted and resolved the various design and code issues involved in meeting those space requirements. Thus, the county’s Palm Island station (slightly reconfigured to fit LGIFR’s lot) provides an almost perfect functioning model of a building ideally suited to LGIFR’s needs.

Based on a careful assessment of LGIFR’s needs and a detailed study of the Palm Island station, the Building Committee recommends the sketch designs attached hereto for the first floor, the second floor, and the site location on the lot.

2. The Committee has visited the Palm Island station with two island contractors (a third cancelled at the last minute) and provided those contractors with the sketch designs referred to in #1 above. In response, the Committee has received a fairly detailed estimate from one contractor of approximately $360,000 for construction, not including site development and modification, and not including septic system construction.

3. The Committee assumes that LGIFR will pay the mortgage payment due in January of 2016 directly to Stankes. That will leave one payment of about $20,000 to roll into a new mortgage. So the Committee believes that LGIFR will need a mortgage of $400,000 with equity in the lot (as a “down payment”) of $80,000.

There are two basic systems available to finance the lot and building combination—a classic mortgage and a system called “lease-purchase” (by far the most common for fire stations). Either system ordinarily would offer a maximum term of 20 years and a current interest rate of 5%. A longer term or lower interest rate would not be impossible, but should not be assumed at this point. Using one payment per year, the annual payment amount would be $32,100.

Attached hereto is a page that sets out a careful and conservative analysis of LGIFR’s projected reserves at the beginning of 2016. It then shows what money would be available in each year’s budget, beginning in 2016, for the building including mortgage payments beginning with the first annual payment in 2017 (the earliest that could occur even if construction started in 2016). An important feature of this analysis is that it starts by keeping an existing $10,000 in both the F&R equipment reserve and the EMS equipment reserve. Then each year an additional $5,000 is added to each of those equipment replacement reserves. The Committee believes that these amounts are essential for a responsible approach to our equipment replacement needs, and these amounts must be protected from being expended on the building.

The main weakness in this budget projection is that it assumes no increase in LGIFR’s ordinary operating expenses in any of the years covered. Any increase beyond the budgeted $4,000 contingent expense line for any year would reduce the amount available either for the equipment replacement reserves or for the building in that year. On the other hand, the projected EMS budgets include a very conservative estimate of income from contributions or T-shirt sales ($2,000), which traditionally have produced several thousand dollars each year. And an additional 5% assessment increase, during the period of years covered by the projections or during the rest of the twenty-year mortgage, would be justified by any significant increase in operating expenses.

A second weakness in the budget projection is that either available financing approach will include one adjustment of the interest rate during the 20-year term of the loan. At the time of the interest rate adjustment, it is quite possible that the market rate of interest will be greater than the rate at the outset of the loan, resulting in an increase in the amount of the annual loan payment.

4. The Committee recommends that the Board promptly schedule a visit to the Palm Island fire station in order to evaluate the Committee’s design recommendations in #1 above.

5. The Committee recommends that the Board formally adopt the Committee’s design recommendations in #1 above and formally authorize the Committee and Chuck O’Hara (who has been asked by the Board Chair to deal with site plan regulatory matters) to take steps #6 through #10 in the outline above. These steps will give the Committee and the Board a very firm idea of the currently unpredictable costs associated with site grading, filling, and wetland mitigation fees.

Little Gasparilla Island
​Fire and Rescue, Inc






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