(Posted Aug. 9, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The Jefferson Township trustees are placing a levy on the Nov. 2 ballot for the construction and operation of a new fire station.
The 5.5-mill combination levy request includes 2 mills for a 20-year building debt repayment and 3.5 mills for operating costs. The levy will appear on the ballot as one issue. If passed, it would be collected for a continuing period of time, starting in 2022. The cost to the taxpayer would be $192.50 per year per $100,000 of property valuation.
Earlier this year, the township purchased 10.75 acres on West Main Street, west of the railroad viaduct extending from Main Street north to Little Darby Creek, for the purpose of building a new station to replace the existing station at 745 W. Main St.
When the current station was built 40 years ago, the department was a volunteer operation. It has since grown to a 24-hour operation with eight firefighters on duty daily.
“This number will need to increase at some point, but currently we have no space to accommodate any additional firefighers,” said Fire Chief Chris Snyder. “Our current building is limited on additions that can be made due to the property size and the cost of the building being brought up to current standards.”
Should the levy pass, the township’s plan is to construct a 21,000 square foot station with six bays (two more than the current station) and room for up to 12 firefighters. The building also would include three office spaces, a training room/community room, and a training/fitness mezzanine.
The estimated cost to build the new station is $7 million. The estimated annual budget needed to run it is $3.2 million. The 5.5-mill levy would generate $1.3 million per year toward that cost. The existing 11-mill levy for fire department operations generates just under $2.5 million per year. The two levies together would cover the expected operating costs, Snyder said.
With the new levy’s passage, construction on the new station would start in late summer or early fall of 2022, after the township puts the project out to bid and architectural plans are finalized. The station would be ready for occupancy approximately one year later. The department would add personnel starting in 2024, Snyder said.
He added that the new location would provide easier access to all parts of the department’s coverage area.
“What made this property very attractive is the ability to use all four railroad overpasses throughout the village with our access to Jackson Street, as well as Main Street,” he said.
Snyder added that the township would sell the existing station property once the transition was made to the new location.