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Fire District 3 to chip in on ICOM overrun

It looks like Island County Fire District 3 will have to pony up another $11,000 or so to help the county’s ICOM emergency dispatch system cover cost overruns, district officials said Thursday.

ICOM said it has incurred about $100,000 total in overruns on several improvement projects, including a height extension on its transmission tower off Cultus Bay Road.

“I was a little surprised, but overruns can happen in those types of things,” Kenon Simmons, fire district commission chairman, said Thursday.

Simmons said representatives of the county’s fire districts, law enforcement agencies and Whidbey General Hospital, which all contribute annually to ICOM, were briefed by the emergency dispatch agency at a meeting in Greenbank this week. Fire District 3 Commissioner Mike Helland also attended.

The contributing agencies are expected to cover the overruns according to a complex formula, Simmons said.

He said the district has the extra money in its contingency fund, “but we don’t like to see it go away for things like this.”

Simmons said that ICOM’s facility and staff are supported by county taxpayers, but that all aspects of the communications service between the facility and the responders are the responsibility of those agencies, which are also supported by taxpayers.

Fire District 3 has budgeted $55,000 for ICOM this year. It contributed $51,000 in 2009.

Simmons praised the extension project for the Cultus Bay tower, however.

“The communication’s definitely been better,” he said.

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