Here is the article we wrote for the News-Hearld:
We need affordable fire stations
The recent News-Herald article regarding Lyndhurst’s approach to improving their fire station clearly showed a responsible, cost effective approach, without saddling the residents with a mountain of debt. This is diametrically opposite to the solutions taken by Concord’s Trustees.
Lyndhurst wanted to ensure that they could stay long-term debt free while Concord will be asking for a 28-year bond to pay for their main station.
Lyndhurst can service their 14,000 citizens with a 12,500-square-foot facility while Concord with 20,000 citizens requires two stations totaling 37,500 square feet of facilities. One satellite station will be 12,500 square feet, and the main station will be 25,000 square feet.
Lyndhurst will spend under $5 million for their station, but Concord will spend in excess of $20 million for their two stations.
In 2015, Concord passed a continuous (forever) safety levy collected in 2016 to “maintain fire apparatus, appliances, and buildings.” It was a 4-mill levy and brought in $2,325,587, in 2016, $2,375,994 in 2017 and $2,386,665 in 2018.
Concord residents were told that the creation of the Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) provided a funding mechanism to pay for infrastructure and safety issues without increasing property taxes across the township.
The Trustees have approved a .83-mill, $10 million, 28-year bond levy for the Nov. 5, 2019, ballot. This will cover the costs for the construction of a new 25,000-square-foot fire station, and the estimated $7 million in interest costs to replace the existing 6,000-square-foot station on Route 608. This levy is expected to collect $574,953 annually.
Although the existing fire stations need upgrading, we do not believe that the trustees are being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. They have not given the citizens a satisfactory explanation why they need a central fire station that is over 4 times the size of the existing station, and they seem oblivious to the levy’s impact on seniors living on fixed incomes or other residents who cannot afford the onslaught of tax increases in recent years.
We are asking all Concord residents to vote no on Concord’s proposed bond levy on Nov. 5. We need affordable fire stations.
Brian Massie Concord Township