Canton calls for referendum to build fire stations
by Erin Dentmon
edentmon@cherokeetribune.com
December 22, 2012 12:41 AM | 1909 views | 1 1 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The Canton City Council has called for a referendum on issuing bonds for building and equipping fire stations.

The Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday calling for a special election to take place March 19.

Canton voters will be asked to vote on whether or not the city should issue $6 million in bonds to build three fire stations, renovate the downtown fire station and purchase fire protection equipment and vehicles.

The Council had originally proposed pursuing $8 million in bonds, but removed a training facility and some equipment from the plans, bringing down the funding required.

“I thought $8 million was a bit much,” Council Member Bob Rush said.

Multiple people commented during a City Council meeting earlier in December that the city should consider using a planned Cherokee County fire training facility instead of building one in the city.

“It has been excellent to have input from our citizens,” Council Member John Beresford said during the Thursday meeting.

Council members said the city is working with the county to come to a use agreement for the training facility.

“We’ve got a very good working relationship with the county fire department. I think it will be a mutually beneficial relationship. If, at a later time, it becomes necessary, we’ll build one,” Council Member Bill Bryan said. He noted that the city should get the same insurance rating benefits from the use of the county’s facility as the city would by building its own facility.

If voters approve the fire bond, an additional line item will be added to city property taxes.

Council Member Bill Bryan said the additional yearly cost for a $100,000 house would come to $24 if the bonds are approved by voters.

The city’s plans call for an $800,000 fire station at Laurel Canyon, an $800,000 fire station at Canton marketplace and a $1.5 million fire station and department headquarters at Bluffs Parkway.

The proposed bonds would also pay for trucks required at the new fire stations.

Rush said the proposed bonds are a funding method “everybody is comfortable with” among the council.

The City Council also approved the purchase of 19.64 acres on Bluffs Parkway for a passive park and possibly a fire station.

City Manager Scott Wood said the property will be bought with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax recreation funds for a total cost of $343,800.

“This is being purchased with recreational funds, but it is feasible as a fire station,” Council Member Glen Cummins said.

Bryan said the location “lends itself well” to being a location for a fire station.
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WhatAboutPersonnel?
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December 22, 2012
They have addressed everything, but covering the cost of additional personnel. Firefighters (FF)work 24 hr. shifts on a three day rotation. Three new stations equals at least 27 new employees. FF make a measly $35-40k/year salary for risking their lives for us. Salaries alone for the new employees will surpass $1M/year, which will more than double what Canton Fire Dept. currently allots for personnel, plus the cost of benefits, FICA, and various other expenses. Salaries can't be paid from bonds, or the SPLOST. They must be paid from the FIRE fund, which is funded through the mileage rate. So, on top of the "bond"/tax they are wanting to pass, the mileage rate will have to be raised to pay for additional personnel. Don't think these fools on the council are only going to take $24 for every $100k in property you own.
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