Whitefish just received a big boost as it begins its transition into a 24/7 emergency services program.
City Manager Chuck Stearns announced Tuesday that the city has been awarded a federal grant worth $650,280 to help implement the 24/7 services, which will require an increase in firefighters as well as other costs. The city is also working on design plans for a $7.8 million emergency services center at Baker Commons.
The grant, called SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response), is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The money will allow for three fully staffed fire shifts “while saving local taxpayers the equivalent of over 33 mills of property taxes over four years,” according to a press release from Stearns.
The city will receive the funds annually for four years on a declining-amount basis. It’s estimated that a homeowner with a house valued at $200,0000 would save $200 over those four years.
Jo Ann Dial of Writeworks, Inc., was the grant writer for the city.
Whitefish officials have long believed that 24/7 services are necessary to ensure proper response time and safety throughout the city. Last August, voters approved a mill levy to help pay for the increased emergency services, which are currently being implemented by Fire Chief Tom Kennelly and his staff.
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