COLUMBIA — Boone County residents might get the chance to vote on a tax levy to pay for a new Boone County Fire Protection District bond.
After falling behind in its usual bond issue schedule, the Boone County Fire Protection District has started looking at its needs again.
"Truly, we are a couple years behind schedule," said David Griggs, a Fire District board member. "We have real needs that need to be addressed."
Griggs said the Fire District usually purchases a new bond about every 10 years and was due for one in 2008. The Fire District has had two tax years without a tax levy. The last tax, which expired in 2009, was roughly 15 cents per $100 of a property's assessed value, Fire District Chief Scott Olsen said.
He said a proposed tax levy would be similar to the old values.
The Fire District started the process of evaluating its needs a few months ago, Olsen said. He and the executive staff will evaluate the Fire District's stations, equipment, apparatuses and vehicles. Station captains will also evaluate their individual stations' needs.
Olsen plans to present the stations' needs at a board work meeting in March.
"They'll see clearly how old they (stations, equipment apparatuses and vehicles) are, what kind of shape they're in, what the issues are and how much money we've been spending on them from a maintenance perspective," Olsen said.
From there, Olsen said, the board can identify necessary improvements.
In the past, bonds have helped update new equipment. Griggs said some of the Fire District's reserve equipment, which is used as backup, is more than 20 years old.
"They're old technology, and there's better types of technology to fight fires that we need to utilize," Olsen said.
Two major factors played into the Fire District's decision not to renew a bond or tax increase in 2008. The typical bond renewal schedule fell during a time of restructuring and reconfiguring within the Fire District, including the forced retirement of former fire chief Steve Paulsell.
"The district was in a little bit of turmoil," Griggs said.
The Fire District also realized that economically, times were tough for many people and wanted to wait until it was appropriate to ask voters for more money.
According to the Fire District's website, the first capital improvements bond issue was in April 1981. Worth $1.5 million, the bond was used to construct two new fire stations and purchase 11 pieces of fire apparatus and protective equipment.
A 1991 capital improvements bond issue was used to purchase 12 pieces of fire apparatus, build four new stations and make additions to two stations.
In 1998, the Fire District was able to purchase 16 pieces of fire apparatus, build three new stations and make additions to existing facilities.