SHFAD to start bond sale next week


November 8, 2016

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District Board of Directors has completed the final policies required to begin selling bonds to pay for equipment and building improvements.

The board met Friday morning to approve and adopt a list of policies governing the sale, said Fire Chief Dave Barringer.

The goal now is to sell the bonds between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, Barringer said.

Voters approved the six-year $1.575 million bond on May 17. The bond will cost property taxpayers an estimated 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. It is outside property tax limitations.

In the bond process, the district sells bonds to investors. The district pays back the bonds over the life of the bond by collecting additional property taxes.

The district is nearing the end of a bond approved in 2006. That bond will be paid off by early 2017. The district had anticipated the bonds overlapping briefly, but the district will pay off the current bond with funds carried over from the last fiscal year. As a result, the overlap will not occur, and the completion of the bond payments this year will offset the combined tax rate for general government by 14 cents per $1,000.

Barringer said the district hoped to sell the bonds before the end of the year based on financial advice about how the election will affect the economy and interest rates.

“We have three years once the bond is sold to use the money,” Barringer said.

The top priority is getting a new ambulance up and running, he said. The district will purchase a chassis and put the box from an old ambulance on it at a cost of about $100,000.

A new ambulance is running $165,000 to $175,000 right now, Barringer said.

The box is from an ambulance that hasn’t been running for two years, Barringer said.

The district will purchase a second ambulance with bond money toward the end of the three-year purchasing period, he said. “That’ll help us with our replacement scheduling.”

Second, the district will build a new water tender, installing a new tank and pump, on a 2008 Freightliner chassis it purchased from a federal fire program for $1,100, Barringer said. That will cost around $80,000.

Third, the district is planning to add a bay to the Foster Substation, located off 47th Avenue, to accommodate the third vehicle stored there.

Battalion Chief Shannon Pettner said the district does not have estimates on the addition yet.

The station has two bays and three pieces of apparatus. One piece must be moved in and out through the same door as another. Often just one volunteer responds to the station, creating issues when backing in or out of the building.

The siding on the building also is swelling and delaminating, requiring replacement.

Fourth on the list are the district’s rescue vehicles, said Battalion Chief Eli Harris. One is a fire engine that cannot respond well into the pass during the winter. Even when Sweet Home is dry, snow is often visible just about 15 miles east of Sweet Home.

That’s where the district gets a large number of its call volume for rescues during the winter, Harris said. The second rig is overweight and under-braked.

Neither are built for going into the pass and hills east of Sweet Home, Harris said.

District staff are bouncing around ideas for replacing the rescue rigs right now, he said. Some ideas involve using the district’s old four-wheel drive ambulance as part of the solution. One of the district’s oldest ambulances, it has just 47,000 miles on it.

The box is small and medics prefer other ambulances, but Harris said it might make a good rescue unit.

“The goal is to try to find a medium duty vehicle,” Harris said. “Could be two units.”

The district would use one for extrication equipment, currently carried on the fire engine-rescue unit, and the other for things like rope and swift water rescue, for example, Harris said. “It’d be really nice to make the right decision when we could make it work for a long time.”

The district outlined a number of other needs that the bond will address, including a remodel of the Fire Hall living areas, a new brush rig, firefighting equipment, roofing, pavement and a new building near the Fire Hall to provide apparatus storage.

The district is seeking grant funds to pay for some equipment replacement, but if the district does not win the grants, it may use the bond money.


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