‘Fire bond’ draws support, ire from leaders
by Joshua Sharpe
jsharpe@mdjonline.com
March 03, 2013 12:00 AM | 2050 views | 3 3 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Some Canton political players are suggesting the argument over the proposed $6 million bond to build up to three new fire stations in Canton could be a fight between those who live near downtown and those who reside in newer developments around the city.

City Councilman Hooky Huffman said the issue, which goes to a public vote March 19, isn’t about money, as many dissenters are suggesting.

“It’s about the safety of these people who live in the areas that the existing fire department can’t get to as fast,” he said. “They need protection, too, and this is the best, cheapest option.”

Those opposing the bill, like Canton activist Jeff Brown, are saying the bond, which would install the first of the three proposed fire stations near the Laurel Canyon development, is too expensive for the taxpayers. He also maintains that money for a Laurel Canyon station has already been collected by the city but spent on other things.

“I don’t like the idea of paying for this twice,” said Brown, who is a Canton resident living near downtown.

Huffman, however, has suggested that those opposed to the bill, like Brown, aren’t as concerned about the safety of the Canton citizens living in the areas of the proposed new fire stations: Laurel Canyon, The Bluffs and near Canton Marketplace. He claims this is because those near downtown are closer to the fire department and thus “already safe.”

“The people in town,” Huffman said. “They already have good response time from the fire department because they’re closer. I think they just might not want to pay for it, since it doesn’t affect them as much.”

Brown denies Huffman’s claim that he and those like him might not care enough about the safety of their fellow Canton residents.

“That is not true. We’re all Canton and I think that Laurel Canyon needs a fire station too, but I want the money that originally was set for that to be used.”

“That money,” though, City Councilman Bob Rush said “is gone.”

Rush said the money Brown refers to was collected through a SPLOST fund during Mayor Cecil Pruett’s administration and was, to his knowledge, spent legitimately as the terms of the SPLOST dictated. It just wasn’t spent on fire services.

That being the case, Brown said he wants to see proof that the referendum is the cheapest option.

A town hall meeting will be held to discuss the issue at 5 p.m. Monday at the Laurel Canyon Golf Club.
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Looking In
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March 07, 2013
Huffman's comments echoed of Pelosi's, "We have to pass it to see what's in it." Excellent point on ten year life of trucks. I am a firefighter, and would recommend the City start considering leasing trucks. This is one of the few areas in life where leasing actually makes since. It's finally come out that it will cost $148/100k (conservatice estimate) per household for stations, trucks, AND personnel. So, everybody in Great Sky, Town Mill, etc... get ready to see a $400 increase on your tax bill. Another excellent point, it's no secret that fire depts. spend most of their time going on EMS calls. The overwhelming majority of these calls are on the elderly and people living in poverty. Both who contribute slim to none towards the service they are consuming. The elderly should not be exempt from contributing towards this service. Why don't I get an exemption from the school tax? I don't have any children. My $0.02.
Pat Gold
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March 04, 2013
I am personally very offended that Mr. Huffman thinks any reluctance to vote for the fire bond might be because those of us who live downtown do not care about the safety of others. The attempt to divide and conquer seems pretty evident and is beneath a person of his stature. My concern goes partially to statements made at council meetings like, "Let's just get the six million first and then decide how to spend it." This may or may not be a word for word quote, but it is very close. Another concern I have is the desire to include the purchase of fire trucks in the bond. It is my understanding that those trucks would be paid for over twenty years and have a use life of ten years. How many of us would think it is smart to continue to pay for something we stopped using ten years ago? I totally support building new fire stations, I just do not have compete trust that our council has come up with the best plan. As one who attends every council meeting, trust and confidence are lacking. It is not my attempt to attack anyone, and I wish our council members would take a more gentle approach to disagreement.
Joe Johnson
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March 04, 2013
It is a shame that Jeff Brown & Bill Grant have chosen to pit the old town residents against our senior citizens and new town residents. The seniors will be exempt from paying the property taxes to staff the new fire stations. That's a fact that this "gang of two" don't want you to know. Grant & Brown should be truthful and just admit that their irrational opposition really stems from their disdain for the city council.
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