Opinion: Today’s Firehouse Bond Vote

Vote in the Fire District Bond Issue, Today, Tuesday, Jul;y 9,2013

Vote in the Fire District Bond Issue, Today, Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at Point Lookout FD Headquarters and Lido Firehouse from 4PM-9PM

You know what they say opinions are like, so stop reading now if you’d rather not know mine.

I want to thank the numerous people I met and talked with about this issue on both sides: who shared their opinions, comments, and knowledge and participated in this discussion. Its obvious people
are doing it because they care.

It’s definitely not a black and white issue so instead of dismissing people, I did my best to listen to get to the heart of what everyone was saying.

A lot of respect goes to all of you. You have many valid points that I agree with on both sides.

My greatest concern is to get the most that I can have for MY tax money from the fire department for my lifespan and for my family’s future without facing a larger expenditure later. You know, passing the buck to myself and / or others later. Pay for what I get and all.

It would be great if we could sever the bond issue from Ye Olde Firehouse and not have to lose that in order to support our fire district.

However, the fact is, we are losing it because it would be too much money to ask from the public to keep it. The only responsible thing is it must be included as part of this bond issue. You could take it out of the equation, but the problem remains that the fire department will be on the hook, (ie-all of us ) to pay the additional amount to rebuild the building. Another bond would have to be issued. $3.5 million for a building currently and of recent years for the most that is NOT being used by the department. I haven’t heard anyone debate that usage.

7 million dollars. For three properties. With no further extra money, for 20+ years. They are utilizing what they have, extending the expected lifespan and enhancing it. It seems downright frugal when you consider:
Westhampton: 4 bay, 2 story building just approved by 2-1 margin: $15.3 million (same FD use as we will have for $3.7 million.)
Long Beach West End “Indiana Firehouse” -$5.2 million. Smaller than our 3.7 mil headquarters will be.

I’ve been in construction. I know everyone was crunching numbers and quoted the Architect saying $375 per sq ft was the going rate. Yes, and he explained that is the empty box price, plus 20% overhead and profit to the contractor, plus insurance 2-5%, plus architect/ construction management fees 8-15%, we’re now looking at $500-600 per sq ft plus any special systems(like a firehouse will have). A commenter posted on this weekend’s newsday article about this:
” A simple, one story bare bones commercial building without any bells and whistles will cost you at least 3 million dollars, and that’s mostly in construction costs.”

The argument that we shouldn’t do it because the bond interest rate is going up : I said “oh man, yeah!” But when I draw it out to its logical conclusion, if we are going to do it, to do it as soon as possible. Should we further defer these upgrades that the department has been in the stages of needing for 10 years already then go when it hits 6, or 7 or even 9%?

Should we put it off and redo the numbers down $1 million, let another percentage point slip by, wasting the million on financing at a higher rate, and our district not having whatever they gave up, with no savings?

Should we put it off another 10 years and have it cost 5, 10 times the amount as they may not be able to utilize what they now have any longer like they do in this plan. Then, it will be 50-80 years old and may not be cost-effective to count on for 20-40 more years.

The project is going to cost what it costs in todays market-which will only go up. The only other variable is the interest rate which everybody agrees is rising. So we should lock it in at what we can get now which is very good. The economy is picking up-that’s why rates are shooting up.

Maybe the department will look like superstars paying 5% when interest rates are 8% and saved the district 3-4 million in interest by acting now? The fact that it went up 1% in this timeframe is a pretty good indication that it could easily be 7,8,9 in the coming years.

I did the numbers: At the fire department figures this is a 1.4% increase of my total property taxes, plus whatever portion of the additional finance charges since the rate went up.

That should be universal for everyone –

I don’t have any emotional attachment to Ye Olde Firehouse. I can see how others do.

I don’t agree that the fire department or district, and thus myself and my taxes owe the public a rental hall.

If you think it does, you should have been promoting that the plan DOESN’T SPEND ENOUGH because it doesn’t put the money into Ye Olde Firehouse that is necessary to bring it up to be the place that you want it to be. I have not heard that from anyone. I might even agree with it for the sake of our town.

Vote it down and ask for the $9 million bond issue. If it’s really worth it, it’s worth it. I’ve seen people want to “privatize” it. I havent heard what their offer is to help the taxpayers of our town.

It was great that it used to be a public rental hall, but: times have changed. Drinking and driving is no longer tolerated. The person or entity serving alcohol is responsible now. It is a real issue.

The fire district will have a 1300 sq ft public meeting room similar size to Ye Olde Firehouse upstairs at headquarters they have said will be available for the community to vote, have Civic Association meetings, group classes and the like.

Its a different world than when some scrappy, plucky individuals, with spare time and a lofty benefactor; put a building together for the town.

It is “too much money” AND “Save Ye Olde Firehouse”?

I dont see how to both save it, and not spend the necessary money on it.
Having it both ways is just not realistic to ask of the taxpayer.

I am going to vote “yes” and support the plan because

I believe it is prudent; it is a responsible answer to the taxpayers, the town, the district and the future; and at 1.4% the increase is pretty small, (mine will be under $130 a year) especially compared to most other districts’ buildings and bond budgets; and other than parties (which still isn’t definitely ruled out) it is available for the community’s same civic uses Ye Olde Firehouse had.

Black and white would’ve been preferable, but overall I think the department gives the biggest bang they could get for the buck.

You dont have to agree. I hope you vote your conscience, too.

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2 thoughts on “Opinion: Today’s Firehouse Bond Vote

  1. I’d like to thank you for your candid and well thought out views…its a shame more people didnt take the time to review the facts like you did

    • But, the Fire Department does not print any names associated with this letter of opinion. The Old Firehouse has not been maintained before Sandy, and the Fire Commissioners are using Sandy as an excuse for the demolition. Lets face it , they are holding back on the new proposals just to see what happens with the September 2014 meeting with the TOH preservation commission…….

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