What is Coming Out of Your Wallet? Higher Taxes
Proposition A will be on the May 4th ballot. This will be the one financial decision the voters of Fairview will make this year rather than the Town Council. Council woman Cynthia Brugge says, “Almost every dollar of the current $27.537 million in debt shouldered by the property tax payers in Fairview was borrowed without their input or vote. The only other loan decided by the voters was for the fire station built on Old Stacy Road in 2007 for under $3 million. If Proposition A is approved, Fairview will owe $32.715 million with annual debt service of approximately $3,000,000.
Proposed is to borrow $7.6 million dollars to replace an old fire station on Highway 5 that was utilized by Fairview’s volunteer fire fighters since 1984 and then became operational as a second fire station in Fairview when the Town Hall Building was vacated in 2010. If Proposition A does not pass, the new Council will proceed with budgets that will include a future plan to either remodel the existing station or build a new one.
The total cost of the new fire station will be approximately $10.395 million. The breakdown is $8.8 million for the facility plus $1.595 million for the land. The added obligation to the Town will be $462,097 for 30 years. “Though there is ‘no tax increase according to the advocates of building the fire station, this will represent an allocation of funds that will not be available to fund other needs of the Town.” Continued Mrs. Brugge. “Keep in mind that in addition to the bond payment, Fairview will continue to pay $110,000 per year on the land for 16 more years.”
What are the impacts on Town expenditures and debt assuming the proposition passes? At the end of FY 2011-12, the total Town debt was $27,229 million and at the end of FY 2018-19, the total Town debt is projected to be $27.537 million. The Town has been paying approximately $2.5 million in principal payments each year; but, has averaged adding the same amount of debt each year, thus the Town debt has been essentially constant the last seven years (even though revenue has increased from $6.1 million in 2013-2014 to $9.1 million this year)
Based on recent history, the Town will continue adding debt each year. For example, there will be needs for a future ambulance at FS1 and existing fire trucks must be replaced, not to mention additional Town services for new subdivisions. The additional debt service payments resulting from Proposition A will squeeze the Town’s Maintenance and Operation budget. There will be an increase of over $500,000 per year in M&O expenditures from the payroll costs of six new EMT’s when an ambulance is added at FS1. “Hopefully there will be enough growth in the tax base of the commercial district to meet the future demands for Town M&O services and to maintain competitive salaries and benefits for Town personnel without increasing the tax rate.”
To help resolve some of the topics debated related to the need for a new fire station, the Town of Fairview hired Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI), a third party consulting firm to perform a study on the Fairview Fire Department in March, 2019. A copy of the study is available on line at https://fairviewtexas.org/images/Fairview_TX_Agency _Eval_Final_Report.pdf. The condition of the current fire station was included in the study and recommendations were made to improve the station. There was no recommendation to close the station, to evacuate the station, to rebuild the station or to change the living quarters currently utilized by the first responders working in the building.
Article submitted by Cynthia Brugge.