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Fire hall petitions submitted; council accepts rural board cost-sharing plan PDF Print E-mail

■ Cornerstone’s 3rd Street to be graveled; infrastructure going in. PAGE A8.

By Jan Schultz

The Imperial Republican

Two hundred and six petition signatures were presented to city officials Monday, well over the 121 needed to call for a vote for a new fire hall.
If indeed 121 of those signatures are found valid by the county clerk’s office personnel, the voters in Imperial will be asked at November’s General Election to support construction of the new fire hall.
In related action, a new agreement from the Imperial Rural Fire Board on cost-sharing for the hall and general fire department operation was accepted on a 2-1 city council vote Monday night. The rural board voted its support of the agreement Aug. 11.
With the rural board’s offer to financially support the fire hall construction with a maximum of $500,000, voters in Imperial will be asked at November’s election to pay for the rest of the building cost through bond payments.
With only estimates from the architect and construction manager to use at this point, the ballot question will list a $1.35 million bond amount to be paid by city property owners over 20 years.
The cost could be less after bids come in and firm costs are known if the bond issue passes, but wording on the ballot including the bond figure had to be submitted by Sept. 1 for ballots to be printed by November’s vote.  
On a 3-0 vote, council members passed a resolution Monday calling for the bond issue vote on the fire hall, but the council will have to vote again at a special meeting Monday.
When City Clerk/Administrator Joe Leyland submitted the petitions Tuesday, she  was told by County Clerk Debbie Clark the resolution couldn’t be passed until the signatures were verified.
A special council meeting this Monday at 6 p.m. will have that on the agenda along with a 2014-15 budget work session, Leyland said.
County Clerk Clark said the 121 signatures required to set up the vote is 10 percent of the registered voters in Imperial, which number 1,209.
Rural, city agreement
At least one council member is still not happy with the cost-sharing agreement approved 2-1 Monday.
Council member John Arterburn voted against the agreement submitted to the council by the rural fire board. Dan Thompson and Dave Fulton voted for the motion. Chad Yaw was absent.
In the past, Arterburn said he thought the split should be 50/50 between the rural and city fire district taxpayers, not the 60/40 split proposed.
“I’m not in favor of their offer. We (city) get a whole lot more expense based on what we have been doing,” Arterburn said.
“I want something that will pass. I don’t see this as a viable option,” he said.
He also complained of the increased cost of the building, with no answers from the architect or construction manager at a special meeting Aug. 11 why the cost has grown most recently from $1.3 million to $1.8 million.
Rural board president Pete Dillan also said he didn’t get answers from them on the cost increase.
Council member Dave Fulton and Fire Chief Nick Schultz both said they felt when the bids actually come in from subcontractors, the cost will be lower than these estimates.
In the past, Arterburn has also noted that it’s the additional rural district equipment added the past several years  (a second quick attack, a tanker, dive rescue equipment) that have been the major reasons the fire department has outgrown the current fire hall.
“I think $500,000 is too weak of an offer,” he said regarding the rural district’s building contribution.
A spread sheet developed on cost-sharing so far in 2014 and in 2013 between the rural and city shows the city will pay about $8,000 more per year for related expenses such as fuel, training, consumables, chief’s salary, insurance and non-vehicle equipment in the agreement’s 60/40 cost split. In that split, the city will be paying 60 percent, and the rural district taxpayers 40 percent.
Some of those expenses are now paid separately by each district while some are shared on a 50/50 cost split.
However, the rural district, based on the past agreements, has not contributed toward building costs.
In the newly-adopted agreement, after 20 years, the rural district will also share in building repair costs at the same 60/40 split.
City Attorney Josh Wendell felt other specifics on the rural/city agreement approved Monday can get ironed out before November’s election, such as future equipment purchases.
“This is a document that you guys are in charge of. I’m going to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” Wendell said.
Wendell anticipates having a signed document before the council and rural board prior to the vote that, in part, assures the rural’s financial commitment toward the new hall and the other 60/40 cost split areas.