(LFC Comment: Here is another article regarding the Concord Township proposed fire levy submitted to us by the ‘Affordable Concord Taxes’ group.)
Township needs safety with no new taxes
Concord Township has placed a tax levy on the November 5 ballot to fund a new, incredibly large fire station. If passed, it will add $10 million in new taxes and more.
In a recent opinion piece in The News-Herald, the township’s administrator Andy Rose said it was time to make a new, “smart” investment in community safety. We fully agree that an investment needs to be made to ensure the safety of our families, homes and work places. But we do not believe the Trustees’ current proposal is smart or fiscally responsible.
Building this 24,000-square-foot fire station, which is four times bigger than the main station on Rt. 608, will cost $372 per square foot. The national average for constructing a new fire station is $193 per square foot. And they say the project will not exceed $8.9 million. That can’t be true, and you just have to do the math.
In addition to construction costs, we can expect up to $7 million in interest payments plus architect fees, plans to rebuild Station No. 2 on Prouty Rd (for an additional $5 million) and other costs, totaling more than $25 million.
Our firefighters and EMS professionals deserve the best resources, and that includes the best equipment and decontamination areas and sleeping quarters and even the best kitchen. But we can’t accept these excessive plans or make Concord taxpayers pay for them over the next 28 years.
We are already overburdened by taxes in Concord, including for fire, safety, roads and property. There are alternative sources of funding – including the continuous Safety Levy passed in 2015 and more than $1 million of special business and employee taxes collected each year – that won’t raise our taxes.
The Township folks also talk about “consolidating equipment” stored at four locations, including the actual fire station. As a business person I understand the importance of consolidation and efficiency.
But we’re talking about an all-terrain vehicle and some office equipment stored in the red barn across Rt. 608, a reserve ambulance parked in the Maintenance Department’s garage, and a number of desks and file cabinets that sit in a house on Prouty Road. I don’t think this necessarily warrants building a 24,000-square- foot, $10-million building.
Mr. Rose stated the Concord Fire Department had more than 2,600 emergencies
last year, which is certainly a lot. But he compared it to the number of calls from
13 years ago. We’ve looked at the most recent Ohio Fire Chief Association Study
and the increase is due to EMS calls, now about 80% of the department’s responses. Concord has, on average, fewer calls than Madison and Painesville Townships.
Some people have told me that if we vote no on Issue 1, we’re voting against our
firefighters. I think that’s just silly … and a little offensive. Of course, we want our
emergency-response professionals to have great resources – we’re the ones
who live here! But there are many compelling reasons why the core proposal
driving this tax levy should be carefully scrutinized.
Other communities in our area deliver five-star safety with new and affordable fire
stations. And they don’t do it by placing more burdens on the individual taxpayer.
Just look at Lyndhurst. They’re currently building a new, 12,500-square-foot fire
station and a 3,700-square-foot renovation. The city saved and floated a bond
over 15 years to pay for the facility for around $5 million. And their annual
emergency calls are comparable to Concord’s. Again, do the math.
We’re asking Concord voters to defeat Issue 1. We’re asking our Trustees to
present more reasonable and affordable plans to meet Concord’s future safety
needs. We’re asking our elected officials to avoid unnecessary taxes by effectively utilizing all revenue, including the special business and employee taxes the Township receives.
Concord Township and Treasurer, Affordable Concord Taxes