On Oct. 4, borough voters will be asked to approve issuing up to $2.5 million of general obligation bonds to pay the costs of planning, building and equipping a new fire station in Kasilof and renovating another in Funny River.
That is the subject of Ballot Proposition 2.
The resulting debt would be paid for by property taxes levied on taxable property located within the Central Emergency Service Area. Based on 2005 tax year assessed values, that will cost property owners about $15 a year on each $100,000 of property value they own.
A "yes" vote would approve the sale of the bonds and the work those bonds would cover. A "no" vote would prohibit issuing the bonds for the construction and renovation projects.
In 2004, voters approved expanding fire protection and emergency medical service to include Funny River and the Kasilof-Cohoe-Clam Gulch areas. A Kasilof station would reduce response times by emergency personnel. Likewise, renovations to the Funny River station would include facilities for staffing the station, reducing response times.
The expansion of the service area has required CES to send paramedics and firefighters into new areas. But the distances meant fairly lengthy response times, said CES Chief Chris Mokracek, thus the need for a new station in the Kasilof area. Plans call for a station to be built on borough property across from Tustumena Elementary School on the Sterling Highway.
"We have been actively recruiting volunteer firefighters for that area as a start," Mokracek said. "We will be working toward permanent staffing."
A fire engine, water tanker and ambulance will be housed at the new station. Future plans call for the addition of a brush fire truck.
The situation is different in Funny River, where a new station already exists. Here, CES would use some of the bond proceeds to provide living quarters for on-duty firefighters and paramedics, he said.
Not everyone is ready to say "yes" to the $2.5 million bond package. Funny River resident Stuart Prisk, who was actively involved in the effort to build the fire station there, said he sees last year's proposition vote as a disaster.
"The borough is taking my tax dollars and doing nothing," he said in an interview Sept. 1. "It is another effort to dupe the population into giving the borough more money. Until I get assurances that money would go to funding operations as promised, I would be against it (Proposition 2)."
Prisk said he hasn't been happy about how CES has acted over the past year and wonders why he is paying taxes if the service area wasn't prepared to man the station around the clock.
He said he's not ready to give the borough more money to do what he believes it should already be doing.
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