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PLAN REQUESTS $800,000 FOR FIRE DEPT.

Mayor Jack Gallagher's proposed capital plan for 2006 calls for $800,000 to build additions to the headquarters of the city Fire Department and replace the city's ladder truck.

The mayor's overall capital proposal for 2006 totals $1.1 million, a more than $900,000 increase from this year, most of it tied to the Fire Department.

For virtually all of the proposed capital improvements, the city pays only a portion of the cost since many of the projects rely on grants.

The Common Council has been active in restructuring the Fire Department over the past year, closing and selling the Delaware Hose building to private owners. The Council also authorized the purchase of a home on William Street next to fire headquarters, with the intent of building an addition to house the Delaware Hose company.

Gallagher's 2006 capital plan calls for $500,000 to refurbish the headquarters building, an expense that, if approved, is expected to be bonded out over a number of years.

The city has 24 paid firefighters and 30 active volunteers who provide fire and emergency response services.

Despite the Council's moves on the headquarters building, the construction of an addition is far from being approved, according to Gallagher.

"We want to make adequate quarters for the volunteers, but first and foremost, (we want) the paid side addressed," the mayor said. "There's no sense in doing a piecemeal job. I'd like to see the entire thing addressed at the same time."

Council President Carleton Zeisz doesn't disagree with that assessment.

"We really want to have a clear layout on where we want to go, because once we go down this road, we don't want to take steps backwards," Zeisz said.

Gallagher said it is possible construction on fire headquarters may begin this year, depending on the Council's actions.

The other Fire Department capital expenditure, $309,000 for the new ladder truck, is dependent on a grant to help pay for the approximate $750,000 cost of the truck.

The capital plan also names several residential streets to be resurfaced for $75,000, sidewalk repairs for $75,000 and building demolitions for $35,000, all of which would be funded largely through grants.

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