OMAK – The state Department of Natural Resources anticipates getting money for an expanded fire base in the next biennium, not the one that starts July 1.
An estimated $5.3 million is anticipated for construction of the base at the Omak Municipal Airport, said Northeast Regional Manager Ken McNamee.
The department will get $108,000 for predesign work in the new biennial budget, which goes into effect July 1.
Meanwhile, $1.3 million to improve water infrastructure at the Omak Municipal Airport is in the 2019-21 budget, too.
McNamee said when the base is built, it probably won’t be as big as the one envisioned by Peter Goldmark when the project was announced in October 2016.
Goldmark left office as commissioner of public lands that December.
“It will be scaled back,” said McNamee. “We’re working with the city.”
Water improvement money is being run through DNR, which will arrange for the work to be done, he said. Once the work is done, the improvements will be signed over to the city, which owns the airport land.
City officials had hoped to have the work done themselves, but some creative fiscal maneuvering was needed by the 7th District legislative delegation to get the money included in the state budget.
City lobbyist Jim Rowland told the Omak City Council May 6 that the water proposal went well until the state auditor and attorney general decided that because the Federal Aviation Administration subsidizes the airport, state funding would be off limits.
The project was renamed the Omak “fire suppression water flow infrastructure” project. The money should be released to DNR around July 2019.
Omak already has been allocated $309,000 in the previous capital budget that could be used, Rowland said.
DNR proposes an office structure on city-owned land across Robinson Canyon Road from the runway portion of the airport. It that would house around round employees, In firefighting and non-firefighting positions. Water storage also is planned.
The base would allow aircraft to move quickly on fires in the area and throughout eastern Washington.