CAPE CORAL, Fla.- It's your money and we're learning more than a million dollars of it could go to expanding Cape Coral Fire Department office space. This comes days after we first reported the fire department says a lack of money is slowing response times.
WINK News investigated why the money is going towards offices and not to speeding up emergency calls.
Take a tour though Cape Coral's Emergency Operations Center, and you'll see rooms initially meant to be a pantry and a media room have been converted into offices.
"When we just had the most recent storm come through, we had numerous groups of people that were back in areas that were not designed to have them operating the way they were," said Fire Chief Bill Van Helden.
An addition of about 4,000 square feet would extend the building out to a fence, and the lack of space would not longer be a problem
That price tag on that is about $1.2 million.
"They risk their lives, and ambulance and all that. We need that," said Cape Coral resident Joanie DeCerio, who supports the project.
"I think there's too much money being spent on everything," said another Cape resident, who simply wants to be called "Mike."
The money to pay for this expansion is not coming out of the city's general budget, but rather, coming out of a county fund called the All Hazards Fund. The use of that money has very specific guidelines. It can only be used for emergency management type situations.
"We've been able to save some of those dollars over the past several years with the ultimate goal of not impacing the general fund because we didn't want to see anyones taxes go up," said Chief Van Helden.
He says, therefore, the money couldn't be spent on improving response times. But the expansion, he says, would help with the efficiency of all departments during an emergency.
The next step in this process? Cape Coral's city council needs to approve a construction company to start the work. That will be decided next Monday.