By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
On Election Day Tuesday, voters in the two Imperial city precincts will vote on a bond issue to fund a new fire hall.
The principal amount of the bond will be $1.35 million.
The Imperial Rural Fire District has agreed to contribute up to $500,000 towards the project.
The rural district has an agreement with the city to house the equipment owned by the rural district. In return, the city gets full access to the rural’s equipment for a fire in the city limits.
Serious discussions between the city council, rural fire district and fire department on a new fire hall date back nearly two years. The department is seeking to alleviate the problem of a lack of space in the existing fire hall on Broadway.
Siting the fire hall occupied a large part of the discussion the past two years, along with how the new facility would be paid for.
The possibility of forming a suburban fire district that would encompass both the city and rural district was also explored but later put on hold.
The site for the new hall, if approved, would be on city-owned property on the west side of Broadway between 7th and 8th Streets. That places it just north of the Lied Imperial Public Library, where the old grade school stood.
Other locations discussed included an area on the old football field along 12th Street, a lot north of the Frenchman Valley Coop headquarters, land owned by Bryon Hust on the north edge of town along Hwy. 6 and city-owned land at either the Cornerstone Development or airport.
Each of these locations presented its own set of issues and problems. As a result, all the parties involved believed the Broadway location to be the most feasible.
The size of the present fire hall totals around 9,000 square feet with 5,250 square feet available for truck storage.
The new facility would nearly double the square footage for truck and equipment storage to 10,440 square feet.
An additional 3,687 square feet for restrooms, a meeting room, kitchen and offices would bring the total square footage to slightly more than 14,000 feet.
There would be four open bays to accommodate any further truck or equipment needs.
At the request of the city council, space was added to house the dive team trailer with additional space gained by reducing the front apron and enlarging the building by 10 feet to the east.
The dive team trailer is presently being stored off-site.
Estimated cost of the building is $1.85 million. If the bond is approved and bids come in higher, then revisions could be made to the existing plan to bring the price down.
The building will be paid for by the rural district’s contribution and the $1.35 million bond, which will be repaid over a 20-year period.
If approved, the first payment due on the bond would be December 2015.
The city office calculated the amount of taxes needed for the annual payment, based on current valuations. The payment would equate to $64.80 per $100,000 of assessed property valuation annually, or a cost of $5.40 per month.
So, for a homeowner with a house valued at $150,000, the tax would equate to $97.20 in 2015.
In 2006, city voters approved a bond for a new city pumper truck. The final payment on that bond will be made in December 2015.
Taxes being collected for this bond payment total $22 per $100,000 of assessed property valuation per year.
Members of the fire department have been attending meetings of civic groups to explain the proposal.
Fire Chief Nick Schultz said it’s inevitable the department will need more space in the future.
It makes sense to address the issue now, he said, because building costs have been rising faster than inflation and the interest on bond financing remains at a low level.