YAKIMA, Wash. — After two years without fire inspections, the Yakima City Council will vote tonight on whether or not to bring them back.
The City Council is also scheduled to take a procedural vote in the city’s effort to take over the Yakima Air Terminal.
City Manager Tony O’Rourke is asking the council to award the contract for fire inspection services to the Yakima Fire Department, which submitted one of only two bids the city received for the work.
Having public agencies compete for contracts can provide cheaper, more transparent operations, O’Rourke said. “The council wanted to test the water, see if there was any private sector interest.”
A private company, Heath Fire Inspections, submitted the other bid, which was incomplete. The city asked the company to fix its submission, but it didn’t, O’Rourke said.
The one-year contract with the fire department is worth $175,000. The city can extend it one year at a time up to a total of five years.
Under the fire department’s bid, two fire inspectors will conduct roughly 4,000 inspections each year.
The city stopped inspections in 2011 as part of budget cuts.
But they are “the first line of defense against preventing fires,” he said.
O’Rourke has also asked the City Council to give a green light to formal negotiations between the city and Yakima County about transferring ownership of Yakima Air Terminal entirely to the city. It is currently jointly owned by the city and county.
In early December, the council unanimously voted to have city staff start looking into the move.
Yakima County commissioners have endorsed the proposal. In a letter to the City Council in mid-December, county commissioner Rand Elliott said the transfer “should be conducted with dispatch to avoid protracted personnel and legal issues.”
Under the existing joint operating agreement, an independent board appointed by the city and county is the airport’s primary decision-making body. However, the city and county sometimes have to approve decisions as well.
In his letter to the City Council, Elliott called the management structure “slow and unresponsive.”
The airport in recent years has struggled with financial shortfalls, and O’Rourke has expressed interest in making sure that the airport plays a larger role in the region’s economy.
The council meets at 6 p.m. today at City Hall, 129 N. Second St.