Election Day: Bond to build new Buxton fire station on the ballot

Washington County – On November 7 at 8 p.m., polls will close on what some might see as an inconsequential election season. After all, there’s not a single city, county, state, or federal candidate up for election. However, residents in Banks Fire District 13, which encompasses more than 136 square miles including Banks, Buxton, Manning, and Timber, will see measure 34-279 on their ballot this year – a bond to raise $4 million to build a replacement fire station in Buxton, replace aging fire apparatus (one water tender owned by the district has over one million miles logged), and make upgrades and improvements to the Timber Fire Station and Banks Fire Station.

The bond would kick in during the fiscal year 2018 in June, right as an old bond passed in 1999 expires, effectively replacing it. The 1999 bond was used to purchase the land and build the station in Banks.

The 1999 bond originally cost taxpayers $0.46 per $1,000 of assessed value in property taxes; this was later reduced to $0.34 per $1,000 of assessed value after the fire district refinanced and shortened the term and lowered the interest rate on the 1999 bond.

The new bond would cost taxpayers $0.47 per $1,000 of assessed value in property taxes, according to an estimate provided by the fire district.

The Banks Fire District has run into a misconception by the general public, according to Banks Fire District 13 Public Information Officer Scott Adams – around the same time they were drafting the bond for inclusion on the November ballot, the Banks City Council was busy passing the Banks Urban Renewal Plan.

The Banks Urban Renewal Plan would freeze the tax base within a certain portion of the City of Banks, causing the Banks Fire District to lose an estimated $3.1 million in property taxes over the 31 year time frame that the Urban Renewal District is in effect.

To mitigate this impact, the city has tentatively earmarked about $1.4 million in funds, spread out over the 31 year period of the Urban Renewal Plan, to the fire district. But according to Adams, these funds aren’t locked in place, and the City of Banks isn’t actually obligated to pay the Fire District anything. If funds are received from the city to offset some of the losses in tax revenue to the Fire District, they would be given in installments over the 31 years and are separate from bond revenue.

Below is a preliminary plan of the new building that would replace the existing structure in Buxton should the bond pass. The current station was built in 1960. Banks Fire District 13 Chief Rodney Linz says the 57-year-old station in Buxton is too small to improve the district’s service in the area. The Buxton station currently consists of a two-vehicle garage and a mobile trailer behind the station that houses a restroom and small office. The structure is located on a corner lot that will not have room for a new station, leaving the Banks Fire District looking for property to build the proposed new station on.

Election day is November 7; polls close at 8 p.m. Ballots can be dropped off in the ballot box at the Banks Public Library.

Sources and more information:

Chief Rodney Linz
Banks Fire District PIO Scott Adams