GREENFIELD — Greenfield residents could see increased tax bills if the city moves forward with a loan to overhaul a Greenfield fire station.
City officials are mulling a complete reconstruction of Fire Station 22 on New Road they say is desperately needed, and they are eyeing a $3.3 million loan to pay for it.
The fire station opened in the spring of 1991 and was intended to only house volunteer firefighters. But as the city’s population grew from 13,000 to now more than 21,000, the facility turned into a secondary station housing six firefighters who serve 24-hour shifts, fire chief James Roberts said. At 25 years old, the station needs more than updates, he said. The fitness room is too small, the living quarters are cramped and training space is at a premium, Roberts said.
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City officials plan to borrow up to $3.3 million to pay for the project, a move that would result in increased tax bills for Greenfield residents. Tax rates would increase by about 3 cents per $100 of assessed value should the full $3.3 million be borrowed, clerk-treasurer Lori Elmore said. For a home valued at $150,000, that equates to an approximate $45 annual increase.
Plans call for a two-story addition to the west side of the existing facility to include new living quarters, a locker room, storage for equipment, a kitchen, a day room, a fitness area and a new ambulance bay. The existing facility would be renovated into a training center and office space.
Residents who have already met property tax caps won’t see their bills increase, Elmore said.
Though Center Township receives Greenfield fire services, township residents’ tax bills won’t be affected by the loan, city controller Buzz Krohn said.
The process will move forward unless 500 residents or more formally oppose the bond, which requires visiting the Hancock County Election Office in the county courthouse to file a petition against the loan by Sept. 12.
Should 500 petitions be collected, the city would in turn have to collect more than 500 signatures from residents in favor of the bond to move forward with the process, city officials said.
This week, the city conducted a public hearing required by state law to pursue the loan.
Don Houk, a Center Township resident, told council members he opposes the plan to borrow. He lives in Center Township and won’t see his property tax bill increase because of the bond but said he’s discouraged that city officials haven’t followed through with promises they made to Center Township residents.
Several years ago, Center Township residents saw their tax rates spike after the Greenfield Fire Territory was formed to balance tax bills for Center Township and Greenfield residents for fire services. Township residents saw their tax rates increase from 5 cents per $100 of assessed value to 24 cents as a result.
At the time, Greenfield officials told township residents a third fire station would be built in Center Township near Maxwell, but that still hasn’t happened, Houk said Wednesday.
Now the city is making Fire Station 22 a priority when officials haven’t followed through on their promise to build a station closer to Center Township residents, he said.
Center Township is being forgotten, he said.
“We don’t get the same fire protection you get here in Greenfield,” he said.
Plans are in the works to eventually build a third station in Maxwell, but there’s no timeline for when the project will be started, Roberts said.
Meanwhile, a station already housing firefighters needs to be updated, he said. Roberts joined the fire department in 1994, and at that time just three firefighters worked at the facility per shift, he remembered. As Greenfield has grown, double that number regularly work there, and the station is just too small to accommodate their needs, he said.
The Greenfield Board of Public Works and Safety will seek cost estimates next month. The bond amount will include the full cost of the project plus expenses associated with the borrowing process.
The interest rate on the proposed loan is 2.75 percent, and payments would be made over 16 years, accruing about $935,000 of interest, city documents show.
City council members said providing comfortable living quarters for the men and women who protect residents and their homes is imperative. They’re away from their own homes and families for 24-hour shifts to serve the city, and they deserve decent living spaces, councilman Gary McDaniel said.
“We’ve talked about this for a while. It’s just never been on paper,” he said. “It’s time to update that facility.”
The city of Greenfield is pursuing a $3.3 million bond for the renovation of Greenfield Fire Territory Fire Station 22 on New Road.
Greenfield residents who oppose the proposal have 30 days to file a petition in the election office at the Hancock County Election Office in the courthouse, 9 S. State St.
The proposal will move forward unless 500 residents or more file a petition against it.