Boone County Fire Protection District to ask for $14 million bond issue

Thursday, February 13, 2014 | 6:13 p.m. CST; updated 2:00 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 2, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Boone County Fire Protection District will ask district voters to approve a $14 million bond issue on April 8 to pay for updated equipment and stations.

Of that $14 million, $7.7 million would go toward replacing and refurbishing equipment and $6.3 million would go toward new facilities and land, according to a news release from the district. If the bond issue passes, property taxes for those served by the fire district will increase by approximately 25 cents per $100 of assessed value on personal property taxes, district board Chairman Dave Griggs said. The bond could run for 20 years, and after the first 10 years, the tax rate would be reduced by 15 cents.

The district thinks it is time to address some deferred maintenance costs on buildings and front-line equipment, and it has been working for about 1 1/2 to two years to determine needs the bond issue would fill, Griggs said.

The fire district previously passed a $7 million bond issue in 1998, according to the news release. When the bond expired five years ago, the district did not think economic conditions were right to propose a new bond issue, Griggs said.

Since the fire district bought its last apparatus, there have been significant technological changes in new equipment, Griggs said. He also said these technological changes could help to save lives.

"Some of the Boone County Fire Protection District's front-line engines are over 10 years old," Griggs said. "These engines need to go into reserve status, instead of being first-responding vehicles. We truly need to update some equipment due to ever-increasing maintenance costs."

Besides equipment, the fire district's battalion chief, Gale Blomenkamp, said the district will also look to add an additional station northeast of Columbia.

"That area's been growing, and we've identified (it) as potential for a new fire station," Blomenkamp said.

There is also the potential to replace Station 13 on North Route E, which is housed in an old school building that Blomenkamp said doesn't meet the needs of the volunteers who live there full time. Station 12 off of Highway WW may also be moved because of current space restraints and to prepare for the state's future developments off of Highway WW and Stadium Boulevard.

"Some stations were built back in the '80s and no longer serve the needs and the increase in calls," Blomenkamp said.

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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