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Alameda City Council Moves to Finance Construction of New Emergency Operations Center

The City of Alameda is moving forward with a new Emergency Operations Center for the fire department.

The City of Alameda is moving forward with a new Emergency Operations Center for the fire department.

Last week, Alameda City Council approved a staff recommendation to refinance, extend, and increase an existing bond issuance to find $3 million to build a new Emergency Operations Center that was originally to be funded by a sales tax increase that voters shot down last June.

Measure C, which would have increased the local sales tax rate, received approval from only 51 percent of voters last June, falling far short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.

Proponents said that the tax was necessary to fund, among other items, new fire fighting apparatus, a new Fire Station #3, and the new Emergency Operations Center, at the site of Fire Station #3.

After the tax was rejected by voters, however, the City of Alameda nonetheless moved forward with the purchase of new fire fighting apparatus, and with plans for a new Fire Station #3.

With last week’s action, City Council approved the refinancing of a somewhat completed bond issuance, using what are called “Certificates of Participation,” or COPs.

Those COPs – themselves a rollover of a previous debt issue – were issued in 2002, and have a remaining balance of roughly $7.4 million.

The 2002 bonds were a refinancing of bonds issued in 1995 to finance the seismic retrofit of City Hall and improvements to Mastick Senior Center and certain fire stations.

The new issue would include $3 million to construct the Emergency Operations Center, have a total maximum principal balance of $12 million, and would extend the current issue at least to 2030.

The cost of that $12 million would run from $16 million to $17 million in total debt service, or roughly $830,000 per year.

City Manager John Russo explained that the bonds “won’t pay for Fire Station #3, but will pay for Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and will get us a functioning EOC, at the site [of Fire Station #3.] Our goal is to start turning dirt in spring of 2014.”

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