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Budget conference: Dunedin scores in budget with funding for EOC, fire training facility

How does a cool $1 million sound?

The city of Dunedin is scoring a win in the upcoming budget, according to the latest budget chief offers proposed Thursday evening.

The House and the Senate included $1 million for an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and fire training facility in the city.

That’s half the $2 million the city had requested. While it’s not the city’s entire ask, it’s still a sizable local appropriation considering budget chiefs are tightening the budget as they prepare for anticipated economic hardships in the coming months as the state responds to the spreading coronavirus.

The city also received $1 million in the previous year’s budget.

The funding would help pay for a 5,429 square-foot facility, built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

The facility would “serve as both an EOC (during disasters) and a regional fire training and public education complex allowing North Pinellas County Fire Departments a closer training facility to be more readily available for response,” according to the city’s appropriations request.

“The City of Dunedin will maintain continuity of operations essential for City functions during and after large scale disasters as the EOC/Training Classroom structure has been designed for autonomous operations for a seven day period,” the request reads. “During non-disaster operations, the facility will be used as a multi-classroom training center intended to be used by six fire departments including the City of Dunedin for fire, hazardous materials, EMS/medical, and other related topics.”

The facility is adjacent to an active fire station, which would allow school and daycare children to visit the fire station and then use the classroom in the new building for further education.

Budget officials expect negotiations to continue through the weekend with deals settled possibly Saturday, but more likely Sunday.

The budget, once brokered, has a two-day cooling-off period before being finalized ahead of the final hanky drop.

If budget negotiations wrap up on Sunday that would mean a final vote on the budget would not come until Wednesday as lawmakers are not meeting Tuesday due to Florida’s presidential preference primary.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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