A Horse of a Different Color…The Facts Regarding the Fairview Fire Station #1 Bond Proposal
Town Council voted to call for a bond election for an amount not to exceed $7.6 million on the May 4, 2019 ballot. The purpose of this bond election is to fund construction of a replacement facility for Fire Station #1. Station #1 is now operating out of 2 rented trailers and a metal building for the fire trucks. This proposition is to build a replacement Fire Station to meet the current needs of our Town and provide space to staff and house a future ambulance.
The Council has identified a funding plan for payment of the debt associated with the bond without a tax rate increase. Some residents have expressed concern about the ability of the Town to support this debt while continuing to provide services. Since 2005 the Town has periodically issued debt for capital projects for roads; water and sewer facilities such as water towers, lift stations, and lines; town facilities such as fire station #2 and town hall; parks and trails; and the purchase of land. The debt has been managed effectively and in fact, the Town received an AA+ bond rating from Standard and Poor based on its strong financial position. This represents the second highest rating in the Municipal Bond industry. In the prior 10-years, our tax base, which supports bond financing, has grown from $850 Million to in excess of $2 Billion and growing. We have more than sufficient capacity to meet our debt obligations.
The only tax rate increase since 2005 was for 2 cents to pay for the voter approved fire station #2. Unlike the Station #2 bond, our strong financial position now allows us to fund Station #1 with no tax increase. Through strong fiscal management principles, all other capital and operational expenses of the Town have been managed since 2005 while reducing the tax rate 3 times.
The staffing for a future ambulance would be paid for from the town’s maintenance and operations budget, not out of debt funds. The Council plans for and adds new services on an incremental basis as funding is available through the annual budget process. It is through this process that, the Council would determine when to fund a second ambulance and when to hire the required incremental staffing.
The cost of the station will not exceed $8.8 million, with only $7.6 million funded through the issuance of debt. The Town has purchased land in the past for facilities which includes the land that would be used for the fire station. That previous purchase has no impact on this bond. Information on the Town’s debt and comparative information with other cities in Collin County can be found in the bond presentation at https://fairviewtexas.org/images/2019_draft__Bond_Proposal_Presentation-DC_final_for_presentation_2.pdf
Previously there was an engineering report delivered to the Council that deemed Station #1 unsafe. As a result, the living quarters and offices were demolished. A second study was commissioned by the Town related to fire operations only. By definition, that study did not include the evaluation for the rebuild of station #1.
Our First Responders provide first rate services for our residents and visitors. Now it is time for our residents to decide if they want to provide a safe, efficient work space and accommodations for our First Responders. If Proposition A does not pass, there will be no new Station 1 and our first responders will continue to be housed in rented trailers indefinitely.
Fairview residents, it is now up to you!
By Darion Culbertson – Mayor, Town of Fairview