[LFC Comments: We received this article from Mr. Andy Rose, Concord Administrator. Since we always honor a commitment, we are providing a forum for those that support the levy. We believe in vigorous debates, and then let the voters decide whether to pass the levy or not. Look for several articles from citizens opposing the levy.]
Concord Township Trustees held a special meeting on August 4th, to further review the financing options for the Fire Station Project that were presented and discussed in the previous Stakeholder meetings. The Trustees gained much insight from the stakeholder meetings and have used that input to help revise and also continue to move this critical project forward in a fiscally responsible way.
Over the past several months, our Board of Trustees and Fire Chief have worked very hard to garner input from the community through several hours of stakeholder meetings, field phone calls and emails from residents, meet with architects and revise designs. They have acted as good stewards to ensure the least amount of financial burden for our residents. Throughout this process, community members and Trustees have all agreed that we desperately need new fire stations for the health of our first responders and to protect them and maintain their safety so they can continue to serve and protect our community.
At the August 4th special meeting, financing options were reviewed, discussed and evaluated. The projection for the cost of the total project is $12 million. The Trustees voted unanimously to pursue an $8 million bond levy. This would allow the township to use the bond levy to pay for the majority of the project. The remaining funds needed for the project will come from existing revenue sources. The bond levy is asking for a portion of the total, not the entire project cost. The levy will be on the ballot in November as Issue #1 to be voted on by Concord Township voters.
Our Fire Station Project is critical for our community and our first responders. “We hope our community comes together on the financing to support our firefighters and first responders and to improve Concord Township,” said Carl Dondorfer, Trustee.
We would like to share with you some of the frequently asked questions we have received over the course of our stakeholder meetings and throughout the project. Please use our contacts at the bottom of the email to reach out with any additional questions.
What does the $8 m bond levy mean?
The bond levy will be placed on the ballot in the November 2020 election as Issue 1, to be voted on by Concord Township residents. It will be .6mills which calculates to about $21/year for a $100,000 taxable property value.
Does this mean that the Station will cost $8 Million?
No. In fact, we do not know what the cost of the stations will be yet. We currently estimate the total of both stations to be approximately $12 million. It will be some time before we see actual costs of construction for both stations. Once the conceptual drawings are approved and finalized, the engineer, AECOM (in Cleveland) will proceed with design development. After financing is secured and a notice to proceed is issued, the engineers and architects assemble the construction documents. (The most recent conceptual drawings are available here.)
After these documents are completed, which could take several months, and the building permit is secured, the project is put out to bid through a Request for Proposal (RFP). The contractors review the design documents and assemble subcontractors and determine the amount they will charge to build the station. When the Township receives all of the quotes from the contractors, they review and select the lowest and best bid. At this point, we will have a formal cost estimate with building materials, labor costs (since we are a government entity, we use prevailing wage contract) and timeline. So, the total projection of $12 Million is a budget or estimate of what we think it might cost in total for both stations at this point in the process.
Why do we need new fire stations now?
Now is the best time to move forward with building new fire stations for our community for several reasons. “Protecting our firefighters is critical, especially when there is a pandemic, so the community has safe and healthy first responders who are ready to serve and protect. This is a much needed investment in our community’s safety. Additionally, the timing will allow the township to save money,” said Amy Lucci, Trustee.
The projected life of the existing facilities was estimated to be 50 years when they were built in the 1960’s. Our 50+ year old stations are not up to standards nor are they adequately sized or capable of housing all of the emergency equipment and vehicles necessary for today’s emergency responses. Further, the buildings do not have any place for decontamination for our first responders. The Concord Fire Department has only one zone—a “Hot Zone” with no decontamination area and no storage for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE.) Fire departments are now designed to have three zones to allow for safe decontamination of deadly carcinogens which allow for removal from personnel after a fire or when responding to calls which expose responders to blood, chemicals, radiation or biological toxins.
Additionally, building in this economic climate is ideal. With very low interest rates and construction costs stabilized, we can secure rates and bids that allow us to get more for our money. “The current drop in interest rates and a slowing of the commercial construction market offer the township an opportunity to further reduce the cost at a time when over half the township will not see an increase to their taxes with the expiration of the Morley library levy,” said Amy Dawson, Fiscal Officer.
Additionally, since 2020 is a Presidential election year, there are no Board of Election costs to place the levy on the ballot which will save us $24,000.
If we were to delay this project any longer, it could likely become more of a financial burden on our residents along with an even more serious health and safety issue for our first responders. Our Board of Trustees collectively agrees that due diligence has been done to prove the project’s worthiness to move forward responsibly.
What has changed since the November 2019 Election proposal?
The Fire Project Levy in November of 2019 was a $10 million bond levy for constructing, furnishing, and equipping new fire stations with designs that were presented by the previous board of Trustees. After researching and conducting community stakeholder meetings, the new Board of Trustees has reduced the total amount of the levy by 20%. Station #1 went through a significant redesign with the sitting Board of Trustees in collaboration with community input. The millage for the new levy is .6mills which is 28% less due to historically low interest rates and will allow for the construction of two stations. (.6mills calculates to about $21/year for a $100,000 taxable property value)
How does Concord Township compare in terms of taxes?
We are fortunate in Concord Township to be the lowest township in terms of taxes in all of Lake County. We are in the lower 1/3 of the county in terms of taxes. There are three zip codes in Concord; Riverside is the 9th lowest; Mentor is the 10th lowest and Chardon is the 13th lowest. Only 17% of your taxes go to Concord Township.
How does the Morley Library Construction Levy affect taxes for the Painesville side of Concord?
60% of Concord residents live in the portion of the township that pays taxes on the Morley Library Construction Levy. You may notice your taxes distributed to Morley was a little less in 2020. The remaining millage (.6mills) will be taken away on your 2021 bill. Basically, this levy and the Fire Station Levy are going to be about the same. So, this levy will expire before the Fire levy would begin. The $8 million bond levy for the fire station will be .6mills. So, residents in this area of the township will see no increase in their taxes at all with this levy.
“The bottom line is that our firefighters need our support. Everyone who lives, works and visits our beautiful community, depends on our fire department. We have asked our firefighters for too long to make do with these inadequate, 50 year old facilities, which compromise their health and safety. We now need to ask Concord residents for their support,” said Morgan McIntosh, Trustee.
Please click below to take a virtual tour of our fire stations:
Please contact us with any questions:
Morgan McIntosh firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Dondorfer email@example.com
Amy Lucci firstname.lastname@example.org