Like the city of Blue Springs, CJC officials were pleased with results from the annual citizen survey.

Like the city of Blue Springs, the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District has bragging rights, too.

Since its formation, the fire district has always scored relatively high on the annual citizen survey, and this year is no exception. The district improved by five percentage points in the category of overall satisfaction with fire and ambulance service, from 83 percent to 88 percent.

The survey was distributed to 822 residents and results were announced last week.

“We took a step back and really looked at how we could improve response times,” Chief Steve Westermann said Tuesday. “We started looking at dispatch response, the time it took from when the call comes in to when the truck wheels move, and how the response zones are laid out.

“We put a lot of emphasis on improving those areas.”

The positive results are reinforced that much more by ongoing additions in equipment and personnel, which couldn’t have been possible without the half cent sales tax that district voters passed last August.

Going into effect Jan. 1, the first revenue check from the half cent increase was received in mid-February, and the district is already making changes as promised.

There are currently eight new hires enrolled in orientation, and they are expected to start in three to four weeks, Westermann said. As many as 15 additional personnel could be added by the end of the year, but that would depend on sales tax revenue, a growing concern for many municipalities.

In mid-February, the city announced it was experiencing a 10 percent sales tax shortfall, or about $250,000, during the first five months of the 2009 fiscal year. The city expects a $1 million shortfall by the end of 2009.

Westermann said the early shortfall estimate hasn’t altered the district’s plans significantly, but it has encouraged them to be a bit more cautious.

“We went into adding staff slowly,” he said. “But we won’t feel the whole effect (of a sales tax decrease) until 2010 after our first full year of collection. We’re keeping an eye on it.”

The district expects to generate about $1.8 million in 2009, with higher estimates for subsequent years because of full calendar year collection and revenue from major shopping complexes like Adams Dairy Landing and Parkway Place.

In 2010, when the district expects to make about $3 million in additional sales tax money, approximately $1.5 million will be rolled back, or returned, to property owners, with the remaining new money available for CJC use.

As promised, the district has also ordered two new trucks with an expected delivery date by the end of the year. The two trucks – an engine and a ladder – are new vehicles and cost about $1.5 million. A new ambulance is on order as well.

Westermann said the district also continues to develop its new training and maintenance facility at 4715 W. U.S. 40. The new 60,000 square-foot facility, currently the home of A2MG Inc., an industrial business that manufactures architectural metal and glass, will house eight CJC offices, four bay areas for all district vehicle repairs and general maintenance as well as a large warehouse that will help with storage.

Westermann said the district officially owns the building and is currently working with architects. The current occupant is finishing its transfer of operations, Westermann said.

The district hopes to occupy the building in September.