Fairview Town Council Authorizes May 4, 2019 Bond Election to Fund New Fire Station No. 1 Funding Plan Avoids any Impact on Current Property Tax Rate
The fourteen months since the last Fairview bond election in November 2017 have often been tumultuous, both for the Fairview Council and for many town residents. Much of their time and energy has been focused on questions surrounding the proposal to build a new Fire Station No.1 to replace the existing facility that all agree is no longer suitable due to its age and deteriorating condition.
While a small number of residents still question the need for a new fire station at all, the vast majority of residents and Council members support the construction of a new fire station. A survey of the 50+ member Citizens Resource Group (CRG), appointed in January 2018 by the Council to provide input and recommendations for capital projects like this, for example, reveals that 89% of that group of residents support a new fire station. It’s been the devilish-details, however, that have often mired the process down in controversy and dissent.
At its meeting of February 5, however, it appears that the Fairview Town Council has turned an important corner in the debate. A resolution was adopted unanimously by the Council to schedule a bond election on May 4, 2019 to seek approval of a bond authorization not to exceed $7.6 million. If approved, a 30-year bond estimated at 4.5% interest would amount to an annual debt service payment of $465,000 for 30 years.
Equally important, Mayor Darion Culbertson’s promise to try building a new fire station without impacting the current Fairview property tax rate seems to have been achieved through the use of some unconventional financing. In lieu of a property tax rate increase, funding will be provided by a combination of funding from reserve funds, Community Development Corporation (CDC) funds, the Town’s operating fund, and the town’s Tax Increment Financing district funds (TIF). In 2015 Fairview created a TIF district within the boundaries of what is called the Commercial Planned Development District (CPDD) an area defined by US 75, Frisco Road, State Highway 5 and Stacy Road. As new developments and businesses arise, they will contribute both property taxes to the general fund as well as sales tax revenues both of which will build the balances of the CDC and TIF.
Coming into the meeting Mayor Culbertson laid out several key decisions that must be made by the Council before discussion could focus on paying for the project. The key issues involved whether to harden a storm bunker or a conference room in the proposed fire station. It was decided to harden the bunker at a savings of about $200,000. The hardened bunker would provide shelter to building occupants in the event of a tornado.
The other major decision to be made had to do with the proposed location of the new fire house. Several weeks ago, residents of the Domain sub-division at Lakeridge Drive called upon the Council to consider relocating the proposed site intended to be adjacent to the Domain sub-division borne out of their concerns regarding serious water run-off and erosion. They contended that constructing the station at Lakeridge Drive would only exacerbate the existing run-off problems. The Council decided to embrace their concerns and voted unanimously to change the site to a tract of land several hundred yards south of the original site where old fire station No. 1 and several Public Works facilities are now located. The change is estimated to cost about $300,000.
Upon the adoption of the resolution authorizing the May 4th bond election several residents spoke to the Council. John Harkins offered, “We’ve come a long way. I appreciate the progress we’ve made. I am however concerned about the debt service and urge you to explore additional ways to reduce it.” Mayor Culbertson replied, “Keep in mind that we will have about two years between when a bond may be approved and when construction might begin. We can use that time to fine tune the actual cost of construction and the cost of debt service. Also note that throughout this process of estimating costs we have been very conservative and have always made our decisions based upon what we think might be the worst-case outcome.”
Jon Cocks stated, “I am disappointed with the higher cost to relocate to the Mid-point (South) site, but it is time to move forward.
Leland Payne observed, “$75,000 a year from the TIF is paltry. We didn’t take any money from the TIF Fund in the current budget. I think $75, 000 is peanuts and it needs to be more.”
Councilmember Henry Lessner responded by reiterating that the current design is intended to meet our current needs unlike the ill-fated original project that was rejected. It was designed for both current and future needs. Residents told us we can’t afford that. It is important to remember that we have lost three firefighters to other departments already. We can’t become a training ground for other departments human resource needs. Housing our firefighters in a safe and modern facility is essential.”
In other actions, the Council recognized the Fairview Professional Firefighters Association Local 5039 that presented a check for $2,000 to Bradie James of the Bradie James Breast Cancer Foundation. James, a former Dallas Cowboys defensive player lost his mother to cancer in 2000.
Representatives of Race Trac Petroleum petitioned the Council for several major warrants to a proposed construction project located at the northwest corner of Highway 5 and Stacy Road. The exceptions had to do with design elements and graphics needed to accommodate a large sign by Fairview Town Center that would otherwise obscure sightlines to Race Tracs own graphics. Other modifications involve the adaption of Race Tracs’ standard graphics and design elements in order to conform to Fairviews’ requirements. The request for approval of the warrants was approved.
The next meeting of the Fairview Town Council takes place on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.