What is Prop. Fire?
Prop. Fire is a zero tax rate change bond proposal on the June 2 ballot. If approved by voters, it will provide funding to maintain our emergency services by replacing outdated fire trucks and updating aging equipment and facilities. This will allow us to keep our growing community and firefighters safe without a change in the tax rate.
If Prop. Fire is approved by the community, the District will :
- Replace its fleet of outdated fire trucks
- Update aging firefighting equipment and gear
- Provide additional training opportunities
- Update, repair and maintain the District’s four fire stations, administration building and multipurpose training facility
Why is now the time for Prop. Fire?
As our community grows, so does its need for emergency services. In 2002, nearly 20 years ago, the community approved a Fire District bond issue. Through conservative spending and strong financial management, the resources from this proposal have funded equipment and facility needs for the Fire District, including the purchase of our current fleet of fire trucks and repairs and maintenance to fire stations and other District facilities. Our fleet of fire trucks is now the oldest in the area and older than recommended by national standards. Maintenance costs continue to increase, having more than tripled since 2008 to more than $100,000 per year.
Prop. Fire would renew the original bonds, providing the resources to continue to update and maintain our equipment and facilities without an increase in the tax rate.
Funding from the 2002 bond issue lasted the District almost 20 years.
How long is Prop. Fire funding expected to last?
The District expects funds from the proposal to provide equipment and facility updates for more than 15 years; depending on the economic environment, it could last another 20 years.
What would the Prop. Fire funding be used for?
The District has developed a long-range facilities and equipment plan to meet the community’s immediate fire and rescue needs, and also plan for its future. Projects include updating the fleet of fire trucks, rescue equipment including the Jaws of Life (extrication tools) and firefighting gear, and maintenance and updates to District facilities.
How has the District changed since the last bond issue in 2002?
We have seen dramatic growth since the last bond issue. Our District protects 38 square miles of St. Charles including the entire City of Cottleville and portions of St. Peters, O’Fallon, Weldon Spring, Dardenne Prairie and unincorporated St. Charles County. According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the City of Cottleville alone has seen a 76% increase in population in the past ten years. This increase in population is linked to a rise in emergency calls. In the past 10 years, we have seen a 60% increase in emergency responses. In addition to this growth, the needs of the community have changed. We have witnessed an increase in the need for emergency medical response, fire response, technical rescues, car accidents and more.
What is the current debt service tax rate?
The current debt service levy fund rate is 0.0719. Revenue from this fund is used to pay the principal and interest on the District’s outstanding bonds for capital improvements including major building projects and equipment. If voters approve Proposition Fire, this rate will not change.
What are the financial details of the proposal?
Proposition Fire would allow the District to issue $16 million in general obligation bonds to update aging equipment and facilities, and enhance training opportunities, to meet the emergency response needs of the community. Much like refinancing a home, the zero tax rate change bond issue would allow the Cottleville Fire Protection District to make these updates without changing the tax rate.
What is a bond issue?
A bond issue is a way for the Fire District to borrow money for major equipment purchases, complete 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 this election, a fire district must get permission from 57% of its residents to borrow the money.
How can the district fund these updates without changing the tax rate?
Due to the structuring of current and future debt, the district can issue $16 million in bonds without a change in the tax rate.
Why does the district need updated fire trucks?
The current fleet of three rescue pumpers and one 100 ft. aerial ladder truck was put into service between 2003 and 2006. Most of them have been in service for more than 15 years. With the rise in emergency call volume in our growing community, these trucks have been put to the test, running more than 50,000 emergency calls and logging more than 550,000 miles. Despite regular maintenance, the costs to keep the trucks up to date and running continue to rise. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that front-line trucks be replaced every 12 to 15 years, and reserve trucks be replaced every 20 years. The new trucks will take up to a year and a half to order, build and be put into service. At this point, all the District’s trucks will be older than recommended by the NFPA.
What are the advantages of newer trucks?
The updated trucks will meet NFPA recommendations, be more energy-efficient, and safer for our community and first responders. Newer model trucks are more compact and easier to maneuver through neighborhoods. They are also easier to clean, improving the ability to remove carcinogens after fires and other emergency responses.
If new trucks are purchased, what happens to the old trucks?
The District plans to sell the outdated trucks to a smaller, rural fire department that has a lower call volume than the Cottleville Fire Protection District.
What additional lifesaving equipment would be funded by Proposition Fire?
In addition to the District’s trucks, other equipment — including our firefighter turnout gear and air-pack systems, known as SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus) — will be due for replacement in the coming years. The District’s Jaws of Life (extrication tools) are 16 years old, are gas-powered and tethered to the trucks. Updated cordless tools will allow for faster extrications, and can provide assistance in areas where the fire trucks cannot go. While the District has a thorough maintenance and repair program, equipment and facilities wear out and need repair or replacement. By addressing these challenges now, it will save money in the long run and ensure that firefighters have the equipment, training and facilities needed to keep our community safe. Through effective financial planning, the District can provide these updates without changing the current tax rate.
Cancer is a serious health concern for firefighters today. How will this updated equipment help reduce this risk for our Cottleville firefighters?
Firefighters are often exposed to high levels of carcinogens when responding to house fires, automobile accidents and other emergency responses. Studies have discovered that exposure to these dangerous carcinogens can be reduced through the proper use and cleaning of personal protective gear and other equipment.
- Proposition Fire would provide funding to replace front-line personal protective gear every five years, and reserve gear every seven years (as recommended by the Firefighter Cancer Alliance). The District currently replaces its front-line gear every seven years; reserve gear, which is used while the front-line gear is being cleaned or repaired, is replaced every 10 years or more.
- The interior of the updated trucks will be easier to clean and decontaminate after emergency calls, while also keeping dirty gear out of the passenger cabin.
- The plan also includes updates to the interior to reduce the risk of carcinogens being brought into the stations.
What facility needs would Proposition Fire address?
The District has four fire stations, and administration building and one multipurpose facility, which is used for training, equipment maintenance and to house rescue equipment. Fire Station #4 was built in 2000, Fire Station #1 was updated in 2010 and Fire Stations #2 and #3 were updated in 2014. In 2013 and 2014, additional staff was added to meet the increasing emergency needs of the community, but the stations were not expanded. The facility plan that would be funded by Proposition Fire would allow for updated technology along with regular maintenance and updates to HVAC, plumbing and other systems. The previous bond issue provided funding for this maintenance and updates for nearly 20 years.
Will Proposition Fire increase training opportunities?
Proposition Fire would allow the District to build out and equip the multipurpose facility with additional training equipment for the District’s firefighters and public education department. It would also allow for the expansion and updating of the indoor training classroom, which is too small to handle many training activities.
Will this proposal fund salaries or benefits?
No, Prop. Fire funding can only be used for capital improvements such as equipment purchases or updates to our facilities. These funds cannot be used for salaries or benefits for our employees.
How long will the bond funding last the District?
The District has a capital expenditures plan in place, which will allow the funds from this bond renewal to last for 15 years or more.
How will Proposition Fire appear on the ballot?
Proposition Fire will appear on the June 2 ballot as follows. The format and language of the proposal are written as required by election law.
Shall the Cottleville Community Fire Protection District of St. Charles County, Missouri issue general obligation bonds in the amount of sixteen million dollars for the purposes of replacing outdated firefighting vehicles with technologically advanced lifesaving firefighting trucks, support vehicles and other lifesaving equipment, acquiring, constructing, renovating, improving, furnishing and equipping fire stations and related facilities, including the purchase of real estate, in response to increased demand in emergency responses and to carry out the objectives and purposes of the District?
When is the election?
Election Day is Tuesday, June 2. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Who can vote in the June 2 election?
- All registered voters in the Cottleville Fire Protection 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 at least 18 years old
- Has been a resident of Missouri and of the Fire District for at least 28 days before the election
- Has registered to vote by March 11, 2020
- Is not registered to vote in another jurisdiction
How do I register to vote?
You can register to vote any time before March 11, 2020. Visit http://election.sccmo.org/election or call 636-949-7550.
I can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. How do I vote?
You can cast an absentee ballot in person or via mail through the St. Charles County Election Authority. Visit https://www.sccmo.org/447/Absentee-Voting or call 636-949-7550.
Where can I get additional information about registration or absentee ballots?
Additional information is available through the Saint Charles County Election Authority. Visit http://election.sccmo.org/election or call 636-949-7550.
Where do I vote?
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.