By Anna Guido
SHARONVLLE - A new firehouse at the old Golden Skates site should improve emergency response time in the bustling commercial zone near Tri-County Mall.
City officials purchased the East Kemper Road property in February and will begin discussions with council on the project in about a month.
"We're just now in the process of determining if we will build a stand-alone fire station, or a safety building that would include police and fire in one facility," Safety Service Director Al Ledbetter said.
The new fire station will replace a station at Centerdale Drive and Crescentville Road and will serve as the new central station.
A half-percent earnings tax increase that went into effect in January 2002 will pay for the firehouse, estimated to cost $7 million.
"The additional half percent - which was approved resoundingly - goes strictly to the fire department for building this facility and for moving from a combination part-time, daytime, on-call fire department, to a primarily full-time, 24-hour fire department," Budget Director Daniel Burke said.
Sharonville's residential population is 13,840, but swells to 36,800 during working hours.
"A lot of this additional cost is due to the fact that we have a large daytime population that has different needs than residents," Burke said.
The fire department expects to collect about $6 million this year from the tax increase.The fire department has 71 part-time, full-time and on-call employees. It began adding full-time workers for 24-hour coverage in June 2002 and already has seen a decrease in response time, Assistant Fire Chief John Mackey said.
Round-the-clock coverage helps reduce response time because it eliminates the delay in paging workers from home, Mackey said.
If the city decides to build a safety building for fire and police, it would cost about $14 million.
"The police department needs some additional room," Ledbetter said. "It's just whether or not we can afford it."
Police department offices are at the city municipal building, 10900 Reading Road.
City council meets at 7 p.m., the second and last Tuesday of the month.
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