Voters overwhelmingly OK Carbondale fire issues
Special to the Post Independent
Voters Tuesday overwhelmingly gave the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District the green light to institute a mill levy increase and undertake bonded indebtedness of $6.75 million.
Ballot Question 4A, the mill levy, received 503 “yes” votes and 141 “no” votes, for a 78 percent ratio, in unofficial results. Question 4B got 506 “yes” votes and 142 “no” votes, also a 78 percent margin.
The fire district’s request for bonding capacity is intended to allow the department to expand to keep up with long-term trends in the district observed by the CRFPD board of directors.
The board spent two years creating a 10-year fire district master plan, calling for upgrades to the department to keep up with growth within the district. Needed are new training facilities, communications upgrades, an addition to the West End Fire Station, purchase of the Smith property next to the existing fire station, construction of housing for paramedics and firefighters, remodeling and an addition to the existing main station and replacing outdated ambulances and fire trucks.
The board and the department hope that better training of volunteer firefighters and better equipment will translate into greater safety for residents and their property. Moreover, the main station was built nearly 30 years ago, and is due for some modernization.
The estimated property tax hike represented by the mill levy increase would be $86 per year on a single-family house valued at $350,000.
Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach was pleased with the election results.
“I attribute [the overwhelming success of the ballot issues] to the relationship that the volunteer fire department has with the community. The volunteers are a cross section of the community, and the support the community has shown to the fire district is heartening,” Leach said. He promised good stewardship of the bond money.
“The message is that we will not let you down,” he said.
Fire district bonds will be marketed as soon as this summer.
“It’s a good investment for local investors,” Leach said. “The bonds have excellent ratings.”
The first action the department will take, Leach said, is to purchase the Smith property across from the main fire station in Carbondale. Also high on the list, he said, will be improvements to the West Bank fire station.
Two open seats on the Carbondale Fire District Board of Directors were also contested in Tuesday’s election.
Victorious candidates were Robert A. Goodwin, with 420 votes, and Louis Eller, with 341 votes, in unofficial results. Carol Farris received 251 votes. Eller received the most votes from voters in the town of Carbondale, even though he’s a Spring Valley resident.
“I just want to say I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten,” Eller said.
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