CITIZENS ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETING JUNE 20 ,2018

 

Attendance:

Lance Beckman, Melinda Heindel, Sandy Montag, Tom Montag, Ann Anderson, Les Penny, Chuck Virts, Bill Crouse, Jim Webb, Debbie Olson, Lloyd Olson, Tom Culp, Dave Roth, Wes Long and Bob Merritt.

Overview of the work of the Citizens Task Force and their Recommendations – Bob Merritt Key to passing Bond is PLANNING, ADHERING to 3 important principles and linking GOALS as established by the Citizens Task Force in 2013 to Capital Projects.

MAJOR PRINCIPLES:

1. Asking public to in debt themselves for two decades requires thorough planning and consultation to insure the debt pays for long-lasting improvement and enhancements to emergency service….GOOD VALUE

2. Maintaining and improving Level of Service as outlined by the Citizens Task Force of 2013

3. Upgrading equipment, protective clothing, training and training assets are a good value both from immediate enhancement of safety, service and future improvements to operational readiness. This will adequately ensure that the operating budget for continued everyday
management in training and delivery of services.

GOALS:

1. Maintain equipment required to adequately provide the safest and most effective protection for citizens’ home and property.

2. Update fire stations

CAPITAL PROJECTS MATRIX (see handout)

Each project item and piece of equipment, as well as all requested Apparatus and Facilities Updates have been thoroughly described and linked to the above goals. Estimated costs are in process and will be finalized in the next couple of weeks In consultation with White Salmon Fire Department, it was determined that KCFD#3 will remain a stand-alone, independent, individual Volunteer Fire Department servicing the citizens from the existing fire station facilities for the foreseeable future. Therefore, a 20 year Bond would be worthwhile pursuing.

GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND:

This type of bond was discussed and we looked at numbers for a 15 year Bond. Bob will send us updated numbers for a 20 yr Bond. Based on the assessed value of the property in the Fire District, our debt capacity is approximately 3.5 Million. (the maximum that we can ask for in a Bond)

A General Obligation Bond is separate and different from our present Operational Levy. The levy pays for the daily operation of the Fire Department. It DOES NOT pay for major and expensive equipment, apparatus nor major building projects.. This is what we need the public to finance in order to continue to meet our goals of protecting the health and safety of our community.

TIME LINE:

1. Hire Bond Council (approx. $40,000 to be added to the Bond)

2. Commissioners will need to approve a resolution to pay the Bond Council from the Bond Voters Pamphlet

3. Bob has talked with the County Prosecuting Attorney to establish the order of the wording on the ballot. He has ensured the explanatory statement- detailing the reason for the request is the first thing the voter will read, followed by the request for funding.

4. Pros and Cons need to be established for the bond. It has been suggested that the Citizens Advisory Council establish the pros of the Bond

5. For the measure to be on the November Ballot, the paperwork must be into the County by August 7.

PUBLIC EDUCATION:

1. Open house in September/October
2. Frequently asked questions pamphlet – mailer
3. Newspaper articles and Ads
4. Letters to the Editor. A sign up sheet was passed around for September and October
5. Facebook and Web site fact sheets
6. Door to door promotion using the fire fighters
7. Scrolling board could be rented for use in front of Husum fire station
8. Presentation to community groups by the Citizens Advisory council including churches, Rotary, community councils (Husum and Snowden)

OTHER DISCUSSION:

Funding towards upgrading the White Salmon Fire department facilities. This could make the availability of sleeping quarters a reality resulting in greatly reduced response times. By purchasing a bay in the White Salmon Fire house, we would be closer to Pucker Huddle etc.

 

FAQ’s for FD3 Bond Measure

1. What is the bond money to be used for?

All bond money will be used for purchase of safety equipment, upgrading the fire stations, and acquisition of new firefighting equipment.

(All money must be used for capital projects as specified by the terms of the bond and can be used for no other purpose. Major equipment such as vehicles used for fire fighting have a finite life span (12-20 years) depending on use and availability of replacement parts, and are increasingly expensive to purchase new. Repairs to the two fire stations are required for safety, to support operations and to accommodate newer vehicles. In addition, personal protective equipment (personal gear, breathing apparatus, infrared cameras and the like) must be available to provide optimal safety to firefighters.)

2. If approved, how will the bond affect my taxes?

The money borrowed from the sale of the bond will be repaid over 20 years by a levy on personal property.

The money borrowed for capital projects will be repaid over 20 years by taxpayers of Fire District 3 through their property taxes. Depending on the interest rate of the bond, the tax levy rate should be approximately $0.48 per thousand dollars assessed value. That will amount to about $11.98 per month for the average homeowner of a $350,000 house.

3. Why can’t capital projects be paid from the tax levy already in effect?

Money raised through personal property taxes currently collected raises about $450,000 per year. 85% of this amount is needed to cover ongoing operating costs.

(The money collected from your property tax bill is used solely for everyday operations of the fire district—a fire chief, part-time secretary, equipment and facility maintenance and training. Increased spending is limited to 1% per year. a single fire truck with an operational life of 15-20 years currently costs $360,000. Turnouts (the personal protective clothing worn by firefighters) alone each cost about $5,000 per firefighter or close to $150,000 for the entire crew and must be replaced periodically. )

4. Why do the fire stations need such extensive repairs?

Each of the fire stations are outdated for their current use.

(Station 31 in Husum is a building almost 80 years old whose electrical system, for example, has never been upgraded. The building was never intended to house heavy equipment, and the truck bays need extensive repair and construction. Station 32 in Snowden is also outdated for its current use. The building is too small to house the brush truck used for wildfires, and is too short to fully accommodate other trucks while parked in the building.)

5. Why does Fire District 3 respond to other emergencies in addition to fire calls?

The fire district responds to all 911 calls, about 85% of which are for medical emergencies.

(The district is an “all hazards” response team as mandated by state law. As such, it responds to all emergency calls for such incidents as medical, hazardous materials, automobile and river and recreational accidents. Call volume currently averages close to one per day year around, and occur at all hours of the day and night. This burden is shared by 28 volunteers, half of whom are also trained as Emergency Medical Technicians and some as Paramedics. The minimum crew required to operate one truck is three persons and for safety reasons at least four fire crew members must be present prior to entering a burning building per state law.)

6. Does Fire District 3 have adequate staffing to provide optimum services?

The district currently has an adequate number of dedicated volunteers to meet demands but constantly seeks additional volunteers..

(The number of calls for assistance is continually increasing. The population is gradually increasing and the number of recreational tourists coming into our area also continues to grow. Volunteers are required to be provided extensive initial and ongoing training to prepare for all emergencies. While the number of volunteers protecting your life and property are currently adequate, remember that most volunteers are otherwise fully employed in day jobs and call volume can be an additional strain for these volunteers. The District is continually seeking out additional people who would be interested in serving the district and should contact Chief Long at 509 493 2996.)

7. How big is the service area protected bye Fire District 3?

The district is large and covers some 50 square miles accessed by a limited road network.

(The district envelops the territory immediately adjacent to the cities of White Salmon and Bingen, extends east across Burdoin Mountain, up Snowden Road and follows along Route 141 through the towns of Husum and BZ Corners. If your property tax bill shows that you pay tax to Fire District 3, you are in the district.)

8. Does Fire District 3 have any current debts?

Fire District 3 has never previously issued a bond. In 2016 it borrowed $150,000 in an emergency loan to replace the loss of an ambulance.

(All but $50,000 of that loan has currently been repaid from operations, and the balance will be repaid in the 2019 operating budget. The commissioners and staff of Fire District #3 are constantly mindful that they work for the citizens of the district, and work hard to control expenses and to seek alternate means of funding such as grants and bulk purchasing with other districts.)

9. Where can I learn more about Fire District 3 and how it operates?

Fire District 3 is a taxpayer-funded special benefit district. All meetings and operations are open to the public.

(The Fire Commission meets at 6:30 PM the second Thursday of each month at Station 31 in Husum. and the public is encouraged to attend. The Fire Chief is Wes Long who invites the public to call with any questions at any time. The Fire District maintains a Facebook page (Klickitat County Fire District #3) and other information can be found at kcfd3.com).

10. What will happen if the bond is not approved?

The ongoing need for replacement of existing equipment will not go away, and if not met soon will only delay the inevitable need for more expensive repairs to the end of its service life.

(At some point it would be more economical in the long run to purchase newer, safer and more efficient equipment. All equipment such as pumps, hoses, protective equipment, and training items have limited life spans. Sooner or later the fire station buildings themselves will no longer be useable. Even now, the lack of an emergency generator could render the firefighting operation completely inoperable when it might be needed the most in the event of a major disaster. Current facilities are not capable of supporting our citizens for community events, housing/sleeping our volunteers firefighters and EMT’s, or of sustaining operations during disasters such as woodland fire, snow emergencies, earthquakes, flooding or other types of emergencies.

Planning has already been undertaken to develop a replacement matrix for expensive equipment. Money from the bond will allow the district to fully implement this plan and future capital costs can be managed from the operating budget.)