Proposition S FAQ
A No-Tax-Rate Increase Bond Issue To Maintain Quality Emergency Services
On April 7, 2015, residents of Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) will vote on a community created No-Tax-Rate Increase proposal to maintain quality emergency services. This document provides answers to some commonly asked questions about the proposal and how it would impact local residents.
Q. What is the purpose of the proposal?
A. Proposition S will allow CCFR to continue to implement the community created SAFE-T (Securing A Future of Excellence – Together) plan, and update outdated equipment and facilities without an increase in the tax rate. If approved, the proposal will provide funding to:
- Increase the District’s training program to meet the changing needs of the community by updating the CCFR Training Facility.
- Restore a regular equipment replacement cycle.
- Replace the existing fleet of fire trucks.
- Replace aging fire fighting equipment and gear as needed to keep the community and firefighters safe.
- Purchase land and replace Station #5.
- Perform necessary updates, repairs and maintenance to aging fire stations, which include station #1 (1 Timberbrook Dr.), Station #3 (511 Willott Rd.) and Station #6 (1151 Jungs Station Rd.).
Q. How was the proposal created?
A. Proposition S is based on the community recommendations from participants in the SAFE-T program. SAFE-T is a community driven process to explore the challenges and opportunities facing CCFR, and create long-term solutions for the future of the District. The entire community was invited to participate. Hundreds of community members learned about the challenges facing CCFR and provided feedback on solutions. Additional information about SAFE-T including all meeting materials and recommendations are available at www.centralcountyfire.org.
Q. Why ask voters to approve this proposal now?
A. In 2009 the community approved funding for the community created SAFE-T plan. Changes in the economy resulted in CCFR losing more than $5 million dollars from decreases in assessed valuation. Assessed value is based on local property values, and as property values decrease so does CCFR’s revenue. This lost revenue could have provided funding for five rescue pumpers and two ladder trucks, as recommended by SAFE-T.
In addition to lost revenue, maintenance costs on the District’s fleet continue to rise; since 2003 there has been a 583% increase in maintenance costs. Seven pumper fire trucks and two platform/ladder trucks are past due for replacement and the needs of the community have changed.
While the District has worked hard to maintain its equipment and facilities over time, things wear out and need repair or replacing. By addressing these challenges now, it will save money in the long run and ensure emergency responders have the equipment, training and facilities needed to protect our community.
Q. What will happen if the proposal is approved?
A. If approved, the District will be able to:
- Update the District’s training center to provide firefighter/EMTs with up-to-date training on current emergency and safety procedures.
- Replace the fleet of aging fire trucks, which respond to more than 6,000 calls within a 72-square-mile service area year.
- Update out-of-date firefighting and emergency medical equipment and technology.
- Update aging fire stations to meet current standards and emergency service needs.
Q. What is the current debt service rate?
A. The current debt service levy fund rate is 0.0860. Revenue from this fund is used to pay the principal and interest on the District’s outstanding bonds for capital improvements such as major building projects and equipment. If voters approve Proposition S this rate will not increase.
Q. What are the financial details of the proposal?
A. Proposition S would allow the District to issue $16 million in general obligation bonds to enhance training, and update aging equipment and facilities. Much like refinancing a home, the no-tax rate increase bond issue would allow the District to make these improvements without increasing the tax rate.
Q. What is a bond issue?
A. A bond issue is a way for the district to borrow money for major equipment purchases or to make major facility improvements or construct new facilities, much like a home mortgage or home improvement loan, which must be repaid over a period of time. In Missouri, a fire district must get permission from the public to borrow the money.
Q. How can the district fund Proposition S without a tax-rate increase?
A. Due to the structuring of current and future debt, the district can issue $16 million in bonds without increasing the tax rate.
Q. Why do the District’s fire trucks need to be replaced?
A. The majority of the District’s equipment was purchased before 2003, twelve years ago. Because of the tremendous rise in calls and use of equipment since then, repair costs have increased 583% since 2003. All nine fire trucks are due for replacement. Many of them were due for replacement in 2008.
Q. What happens to the District’s old fire trucks when new ones are purchased?
A. The trucks are sold to smaller or volunteer fire departments with smaller call volumes.
Q. What facility challenges is the District facing?
A. Much like homes, fire stations need regular maintenance. Because of the current financial situation there has not been funding available for some regular maintenance such as driveway and roof repairs at many of the stations.
Training programs are limited by the current training facility, which features a burn tower and concrete areas for rescue training. There is no indoor space for classroom instruction, and training course offerings are limited by the current facilities.
In addition, Stations #1 and #5 are in need of replacement. Station #5, located at 2934 Ehlmann Road, was originally built in 1975, when CCFR was a volunteer department. The ceilings are too low and the station is too small for up-to-date fire trucks, it is also too small to house the NFPA recommended four fire fighters. Fire Station #1 at 1 Timberbrook Drive was built 1991. The foundation of the building is shifting, and there are chronic leaks from the original construction. The space of the building also no longer meets the needs of the growing District.
Q. How would Proposition S impact training?
A. If approved, Proposition S would provide funding to update the District’s training center, and ensure emergency responders have the training needed to respond to a wide variety of emergency situations including automobile accidents, hazardous materials incidents and homeland security situations.
The current training facility presents challenges to providing up-to-date training. For example, engineer (the fireman who drives the truck) training must take place off-site. Spaces for this are challenging to find, which limits training opportunities.
The existing burn tower also limits training opportunities. The tower uses combustible materials such as wood and paper to create different fire scenarios. This type of fire is hard to control, and requires a long set-up and cleanup time after each use. The tower can be converted to allow for fires to be created by gas. These fires are cleaner, safer and more easily controlled. The gas system would allow for more trainings to be conducted in a safer environment.
An updated training facility would also allow for simulation labs for firefighters and leadership to train on a variety of situations including incident command and emergency operations. In addition, this facility would provide the space to host outside instructors for classroom and hands-on training.
Q. How is CCFR funded?
A. Nearly all of CCFR’s funding comes from local property taxes (98%), and two-percent is from interest income, fire prevention and code enforcement fees.
Q. What are CCFR’s expenditures?
A. The majority of CCFRs expenditures go toward salaries and benefits (87%), 6% is for operations, 5% goes to administration and 2% goes toward capital projects.
Q. When is the election?
A. Election Day is Tuesday, April 7. In an election, EVERY SINGLE VOTE IS IMPORTANT. The proposal requires 57.1% approval to pass. It is crucial that you remember to vote on that day and remind all of your friends and family to do the same. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Q. Who is eligible to vote in the April 7 election?
A. All registered voters in the CCFR District are eligible to vote in this election. A person may vote in any election who:
- Is a citizen of the United States and is 18 years of age or older,
- Has been a resident of the state and of the election district, in which the person seeks to vote for at least 28 days prior to the election,
- Has registered before the election registration deadline,
- And is not registered to vote in another jurisdiction.
Q. How do I register to vote?
A. You can register to vote anytime before March 11, 2015. Visit http://election.sccmo.org/election or call 636-949-7550 or 1-800-822-4012 for details.
Q. How can I vote an absentee ballot?
A. You will need to request a ballot in writing. For more information about absentee voting visit http://election.sccmo.org/election or call 636-949-7550 or 1-800-822-4012.
Q. Where can I get additional information about registration or absentee ballots?
A. Additional information is available through the Saint Charles County Election Authority visit http://election.sccmo.org/election or call 636-949-7550 or 1-800-822-4012.
Q. Where Do I Vote?
A. Your precinct number and polling location are shown on your voter notification card. Additional information is available through the Saint Charles County Election Authority visit http://election.sccmo.org/election or call 636-949-7550 or 1-800-822-4012.
Q. How will Proposition S appear on the ballot?
A. The proposal will appear on the April 7 ballot as follows. The format and language of the proposal are written as required by election law.
For the purpose of implementing the community created SAFE-T plan to acquire up-to-date firefighting and emergency vehicles, apparatus and auxiliary equipment, to acquire, construct, renovate, replace, improve, furnish and equip outdated fire stations and training facilities, including the purchase of land where necessary and the refinancing of prior obligations and agreements previously used to finance required improvements to facilities, shall the Central County Fire & Rescue, a Fire Protection District of St. Charles County, Missouri (CCFR), borrow money in the amount of Sixteen Million Dollars ($16,000,000), and issue general obligation bonds for the payment thereof?
The authorization of the general obligation bonds will authorize the levy and collection of an annual tax in addition to the other taxes provided for by law on all taxable tangible property in the District sufficient to pay the interest and principal of the Bonds as they fall due and to retire the same within twenty years from the date thereof, but the debt service levy of the District is expected to remain unchanged at the current levy of $0.0860 per one hundred dollars assessed valuation of real and personal property.