The City Council has called for a bond referendum to let voters decide if the city should issue $6 million in bonds to build and improve fire stations.
The Cherokee County Elections Office will be open for early voting from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through March 15.
Regular voting for the referendum will take place March 19. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and voters must vote at their regular polling places on March 19.
The bond referendum is only open to city of Canton residents.
The proposed bond issue calls for money to build new fire stations at Laurel Canyon, near the new Northside Hospital and at the Bluffs.
The Laurel Canyon and Northside Hospital stations are set to cost $800,000 each, while the Bluffs station is set to cost $1.2 million, city officials have said.
The bonds would also fund two pumper trucks and a ladder truck, as well as a renovation of the existing downtown fire station.
Under the bond proposal, the city would collect $500,000 yearly for the next 20 years.
The fire millage would be set at 0.65 mills and would appear as a separate line item on property tax bills. The cost to the owner of a $100,000 home would be approximately $28 per year, according to Canton Chief Financial Officer Nathan Ingram.
The three proposed new stations would be built in stages over a five-year time period.
City officials have said the cost to operate the additional three stations would require a millage rate of about 3 mills, approximately $120 a year for the owner of a $100,000 house.
The interest rate on the bonds is not to exceed 5.5 percent.
“We’re hoping to be in the neighborhood of the low 3’s. We have to put the figure of 5.5 percent so we know it’s above what we will pay,” City Council Member Hooky Huffman said.
The city fire department now has two stations and handles almost 3,000 calls per year. The average response time for calls is over six minutes, according to city officials.
“We have decided we will keep the fire department in the city; therefore, we need additional stations,” City Council Member John Beresford said.