Search and Rescue wins $25,000 pledge from council |

Search and Rescue wins $25,000 pledge from council

Brad Bolchunos/Steamboat Pilot

— Routt County Search and rescue won words of praise and a $25,000 pledge from the city for its efforts to acquire a $250,000 state grant to expand its station.

James Heckbert, board member of the 21-year old organization which shares its building with Steamboat Springs Ambulance at 911 Yampa Avenue said a "1991 application for Colorado Energy impact funds failed due to lack of a cash match.

With the Rural Fire protection District, Search and Rescue is seeking $60,000 to $80,000 from local entities for the match, Heckbert said. So far, the lodging committee and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. have denied requests, he said.

Increasing demand will call for a new ambulance in 1992, Heckbert noted in a Jan 3 memo to council. His group hopes to add two equipment bays and a second story for administration, training, sleeping quarters and storage at the facility, which must now also house a recently donated communication bus.

The five existing bays, built in 1981 house two ambulances and three search and rescue vehicles.

More space will allow the organization, composed largely of volunteers from area businesses, to operate more efficiently which means a better protected community, Heckbert said.

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"We all live by what I call the Magic Johnson theory of life. It's not going to happen to me" Heckbert said.

"We are asking for money so we can use our time to help people in Routt County. I think (members) have earned your consideration".

Search and Rescue calls increased to a total of 29 in 1991 – a considerable increase, Heckbert said

Council members appeared to agree unanimously to support the project with $25,000. Whether the money should come from unappropriated reserves generated some debate, however, as revenue is expected to fall short of earlier projections due to opening date delays.

Council member Blaise Rastello, while supporting the project, said the city should cut another budget item to pay Search and Rescue.

Council member Dick Yeager agreed in concept, but said the source of the request called for an exception. "I feel this project is an absolute essential service to the community", he said.

The unappropriated reserve, usually set at a balance of $2 million, stands at less than $1.5 million because the city airport borrowed about $500,000 last year for initiating expansion projects. An unappropriated reserve account review will occur next summer.

"If we have a (budget) shortfall, there's a lot of capital projects we can stall," Council member Paula Cooper Black said. "If $25,000 out of unappropriated reserves is a haggling point, we're in a lot more trouble than we think."

"We may have to make substantial changes to the budget, but we can't do it on a day to day basis," said City Council President Mary Brown.

Routt County Commissioner Randy Taylor confirmed that the county would somehow be able to contribute. "I'm not sure where, but we're going to look long and hard and we will get $25,000," he said.