Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fire Department plan meets city’s needs

The Bellevue Fire Department is hoping to raise property taxes by an additional $1.40 per $100,000 of property value per month.


The Bellevue City Council has approved a land trade plus a one-time cash payment to acquire a building at 517 N. Second St. to be used as a new fire station for the Bellevue Fire Department.

Last February, the council began discussions on reducing surplus properties. In April, the council declared numerous properties obtained from developers in lieu of impact fees as surplus property, allowing the city to enter into agreements to sell or exchange the properties. Two parcels, one at 651 S. Main St., and another at 710 Cedar St., will be exchanged to the owner of the 517 N. Second St. property in conjunction with a one-time $50,000 cash payment completing the deal.

Bellevue Fire Chief Greg Beaver has had his eye on the property for some time, and dropping real estate prices, along with the city's declaration of surplus property, made the deal a reality during the Thursday, Sept. 30, City Council meeting, when the motion passed unanimously. Today the Fire Department is afforded approximately 750 square feet of shelter in a building constructed for a lambing shed in the early 1900s. Chief Beaver said it has served its day and Bellevue is grateful to Blaine County for its generosity in letting the Fire Department make use of it. The useful life of the existing structure is limiting and not utility-cost-friendly.

The future building at 517 N. Second St. provides 3,300 finished square feet with four overhead doors with heights allowing clearance for existing and future fire truck equipment. The building will house four fire trucks, necessary gear and supplies. The building is energy efficient with total wall and ceiling insulation finished with sheet rock. Lighting is energy efficient, and there are two high-efficiency gas forced-air ceiling units. A handicap bathroom and utility area are ready for use. The structure is virtually maintenance free with a 6/12 pitched roof that sheds snow away from the entrance/exit doors and is sided with steel. Chief Beaver stated that the building is move-in, turn-key ready.

"The most important feature of the building is its location," he said. "This facility is centrally located, which was the most important factor in considering this site. The location must and shall provide for response times that are equal to today's if not better for the entire Bellevue city limits. This location does just that and more!"

Efficient response time means lives saved and less structure and personal property damage and loss. In accordance with Idaho state law, there will be a public hearing on Thursday, Oct. 27, about the land exchange. Disposition shall occur after the public hearing. Previous discussions about the potential land acquisition were held during executive session as allowed by state law for matters pertaining to real estate, due to the highly competitive nature of the real estate market and out of respect for privacy for the property owners potentially involved in real estate deals with a city.

Bellevue voters will also have the opportunity to vote on a bond for additional funds for the Fire Department on the next ballot on Nov. 8. The Bellevue Fire Department is hoping to raise property taxes by an additional $1.40 per $100,000 of property value per month for land acquisition, a fire truck and equipment upgrades.

Meanwhile, Trent Shoemaker was appointed as assistant fire chief. There is no pay raise for Shoemaker, who has previously taken on the assistant chief role in Chief Beaver's absence. Recently, Idaho Surveying & Rating Bureau evaluated Bellevue Fire Department reports and city infrastructure. The final grading resulted in the city's receiving a lowered insurance classification from 6 to 5, which affords property owners a lower cost of property insurance. Chief Beaver stated that this doesn't come easy when you're using 28-year-old equipment and trying to maintain the necessary equipment in a very limited space. Chief Beaver stated his volunteers are a team that can't be beat and their track record reflects that. Property owners can check with their insurance providers to make sure they are getting the best possible rates based upon the new class 5 rating.

The Fire Department is always looking for additional volunteer firefighters. Those interested can contact Greg Beaver at 788-9277.

Chris Koch is mayor of Bellevue.

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