The Boone County Fire Protection District will be able to renovate stations and purchase much-needed equipment after Boone County residents passed a $14 million bond issue on Tuesday by an unofficial 72% vote.
The $14 million bond will be paid off over a maximum of 20 years. It includes a 25-cent increase per 100 dollars of assessed valuation on personal property taxes and real estate property taxes over the first ten years. On the last ten years of the bond, the tax hike decreases to 10-cents per 100 dollars of assessed valuation.
The bond will cost the average Boone County resident with a residential property value of $150,000 $71.25 over the first 10 years and $28.50 over the last 10 years. Only residents in the Boone County Fire Protection District will experience the property tax increase. Residents within Columbia limits will not see an increase.
The Boone County Fire Protection District will use $7.1 million of the $14 million bond to pay for land and improvements to facilities. Chairman of the board of the Fire Protection District, David Griggs, mentions station 13 specifically as one that needs improvement.
“Station 13 is a station that we’ve needed to be replaced since the day we opened it, frankly,” Griggs said. “The apparatus is housed in a 20-year old building and the station is housed in what used to be a school. That building is in very poor shape. It has lots of water issues. It desperately needs to be replaced.”
The remaining $6.9 million will put toward apparatus and equipment replacements and refurbishing. This includes the purchase of seven new fire engines, three new tankers, three new brush trucks and two new rescue squads. Boone County Fire Chief Scott Olsen is relieved that the unit will be able to replace their severely outdated reserve trucks.
“Our reserve trucks are very outdated,” Olsen said. “They’re 1983 vintage. They’re very difficult to get parts for. We’re spending a lot of money on maintenance for them. Those trucks will go away as a result of this bond.”
The Boone County Fire Protection District currently has 250 volunteers and 25 career support staff. The fire district responded to 4,224 calls in 2013, 181 of which were fires. Money from the bond will not go toward employees or benefits.
Griggs says that plans for station renovations and station 13’s relocation have been drawn up, but there is no official timetable for completion. Griggs says the first order of business will be to look at new equipment later this week. He also expects to set up a schedule for station renovations early next week.