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The James City County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the purchase of a fuel island for the new Fire Station 1 in Toano Tuesday night, a move that comes two weeks after the item was pulled from the agenda due to concerns about its place in the project’s budget.
William Stewart, director of fleet and equipment for James City County, submitted a recommendation Sept. 8 to approve awarding a contract to fuel system distributer Jones & Frank for the construction, engineering and installation of a $293,258 fuel island.
The fuel island, for the new station being built adjacent to the current Toano station on Forge Road, would be a place where fire personnel can fill the fuel tanks of emergency vehicles.
The contract award was included in the Sept. 8 consent agenda but Supervisor Jim Kennedy (Stonehouse) requested the item be pulled after resident Chris Henderson questioned if the fuel island was included in the project budget.
Kennedy then asked County Administrator Bryan Hill for information on cost overruns at Fire Station 1, which Hill said he would provide after removing the item from discussion completely Sept. 8.
“I would like to pull this item from the agenda in totality because I have questions I need to ask the staff, as well,” Hill said Sept. 8. “When we say a number is going to be $6.1 million, it’s been my penchant to say that the number is $6.1 million. I don’t like surprises.”
During the Sept. 22 regular board meeting, Hill said all accounts show the project will come in on budget at $6.1 million, the amount approved by the board in 2013.
Supervisors agreed they should authorize the purchase and emphasized the discussion was not about the department’s value but rather about fiscal responsibility.
“It’s more of a discussion on construction costs and proper planning,” Vice Chairman Kevin Onizuk (Jamestown) said. “We want to get value for every dollar that we spend and we want to make sure we’re getting value for the folks in our fire station.”
Henderson said the board should support firefighters but also respect taxpayers.
“I think it is incumbent upon us to demand from our government that we do not waste our money and use it in the best way possible and support people on the front lines,” Henderson said.
Before the board approved the purchase, members of the James City-Bruton Volunteer Fire Department, which operates out of Fire Station 1, spoke to the station’s contributions to the community.
Department President Phil Murdock said it has always been the department’s “pure intention” to stick to the station’s budget.
“Every time we have gone back to our members and shared the cuts we have made to our building, not one time did they complain because they also wanted to honor the budget you gave us,” Murdock said. “Members ask for very little. We asked for a place to park our equipment, a place to lay our heads and a place to get ready for the next call.”
Board Chairman Michael Hipple (Powhatan), who is a former president of the James City-Bruton Department, said his fellow volunteers deserve more than the board can offer.
“We’re talking about a fuel island when they have given 50-plus years of heart-felt dedication,” Hipple said of the Toano firefighters. “We’re going to have another fuel island and we’re going to be able to service the community.”