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Tag Archive | "15-year bond"

City Council chooses 15-year millage proposal for fire station


by Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council went over the numbers last Thursday evening, and decided that while the monthly payments would be a little higher for taxpayers, going with a 15-year bond on the proposed new fire station was worth saving taxpayers at least $400,000 over a 20-year bond, and $800,000 over a 25-year bond.

The proposal that residents will vote on in November will be a 15-year bond at 3.455363 mills the first year, and an average of 3.4290 mills thereafter. For someone with a home that has a taxable value of $50,000, that equates to about $172 more per year, or just under $15 per month. And, if the taxable values in Cedar Springs go up, the millage rate will go down. 

The total cost of the fire station is estimated at $2,991,741. That includes $2,136,958 in building and site prep; engineering and testing of $320,544; and $534,240 for contingencies. “Contingencies are additional funds that are set aside for fixing problems that were not accounted for or were unknowable at the time of design and planning,” explained City Manager Mike Womack. “Any funding that is leftover at the end of the construction of the building would then be put towards ‘equipping a new fire station’ and ‘acquisition of fire equipment, apparatus and vehicles, and other related expenses and improvements’ as is indicated in the ballot language.”

The total payback on the 15-year bond would be $4,013,850.

The vote was 5-2, with Council members Perry Hopkins and Jerry Gross Sr. being the two no votes. Hopkins said he would personally like the one that got it paid off the fastest, but felt a 20-year bond would be easier on taxpayers. 

Gross also felt taxpayers would have a hard time with it. “As much as I want a new fire station, we also have to look at the new storm drain expense—they won’t have a choice in that. I just struggle with that much money. It’s a tax load on the community,” he said.

“Despite what some people are saying, there are not a lot of frills in that station,” said Fire Chief Marty Fraser. We had to meet a lot of government standards not in effect 40 years ago. People don’t understand what we’ve done here (at the current station) the last 38 years. We’ve made do. It was built to code in 1980 but it no longer meets code.”

Cedar Springs firefighter Lt. Steve Schipper was on the fire station relocation committee, along with another Cedar Springs firefighter, the City Manager, three businessmen (two of which are builders), the Mayor, and a city resident whose career was firefighting in Grand Rapids. “Our mission was to plan a 50-year facility that would meet current and possible future needs,” explained Schipper. 

He explained that they looked for a piece of property that the city already owned to keep down the expense. And they wanted to stay near the center of town. “It’s critically important to be able to access 17 Mile and Main Street quickly,” he said. “We also have a longstanding relationship with Nelson Township to provide coverage there as well.” 

Both he and Fraser noted they are one of the busiest departments in the area, fielding 654 calls in 2017—including 26 structure fires; 44 traffic accidents; and 487 medical calls. And as Cedar Springs and Nelson Township grows, so will the number of calls.

One big problem they have is that they have outgrown the station.

“Today, we have eight apparatus and five bays. All of our equipment does not fit, and some is stored off site,” said Schipper. He noted that if they have a hazmat situation, they have to go to Ensley to get what they need. The Model A is also not at the station. And equipment is getting bigger. So the architect took that into consideration when designing the equipment bays on the new building. 

Schipper said that the station would be a pre-fab concrete building with dressing to make it look nicer. 

For instance, Fraser said that while the drawing shows nice, arched doors, the arches are merely decorative. “The doors are just basic square doors,” he explained.

But it does need to be built to a category 4 rating. “We need to be able to respond to the public during weather events,” explained Schipper. 

Schipper said they also have no place for their bi-monthly meetings of 18-25 individuals. With the proposed training room, they will be able to have those meetings, and also invite other departments to training sessions. Schipper said that they reduced the sizes of other rooms in order to make that room a little bigger. He said it would fit about 32 people at tables, and up to 51 standing. “It was also designed with the idea that it could be used as a command center in case of an emergency—such as a tornado—by us, or FEMA, or the Red Cross,” he noted.

One of the things people have questioned about the floor plan is why do volunteer firefighters need bunks? “There are not going to be bunks there. We will probably use it for storage,” remarked Schipper. “We needed to plan for expansion so it could be a future bunk room if needed.” 

The hose tower is where they will hang their hose to dry after a fire. “A drying room is atrociously expensive, so we opted for something less expensive,” said Schipper.

He explained that the kitchen is really just a kitchenette with a coffee pot and a dorm size fridge. The offices are small as well—just big enough for a firefighter or two to do paperwork.

Schipper said that while the new station is bare bones, it would fit their needs now and in the future. “It says a lot to the people who want to come to the city and they see the amenities; they want to see they are protected, not just by police but by first responders as well. An adequate fire station says a lot about a city. A lot of goodwill comes from that.”

For questions on the fire station bond proposal, you can email the city manager at cityofcedarsprings.org or call 616-696-1330.

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