Fire district bond: One bond retires, no tax increase anticipated

May 2015 Posted in Community, News
Measure’s details
If the $4.3 million
Silverton Fire District bond
is approved, the money
would be used to:
• Purchase and equip firefighting
apparatus and firefighting
and rescue equipment.• Refurbish three existing
pumpers to improve
reliability and safety.

• Upgrade and make safety
improvements to existing
fire apparatus and equipment.

• Replace self-contained
breathing apparatus.

• Repair and safety upgrades
to the training tower
and burn room.

• Improve and repair the
five district fire stations.

or 503-873-5328

By Brenna Wiegand

Silverton Fire District is placing a $4.3 million bond measure before voters on May 19.

If voters approve Bond Measure 24-383, the funds would be used to improve and repair the fire district’s five stations and training facilities, purchase and equip pumper trucks, refurbish three existing pumper trucks, replace old and obsolete self-contained breathing apparatus and pay bond issuance fees.

A similar bond measure approved in 1995 expires this year, and taxpayers are not expected to see an increase if the bond passes. as the fire district anticipates the rate will remain at around 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a home valued at $200,000, the owner will pay approximately $56 per year.

“Thanks to growth and lower interest rates taxes will stay the same,” Capt. Ed Grambusch said.

A training officer, Grambusch said the “burn room” built 20 years has taken a lot of abuse. Hundreds of firefighters from surrounding areas make use of the training facility, which Silverton is happy to supply.

“Without training you don’t have an organization,” Grambusch said.

Fire Chief Bill Miles said the donated houses to burn “where you really get the good training” tend to be few and far between.

The district has seven staff members and 70 volunteers. Silverton Fire District encompasses 106 square miles and has outposts at Scotts Mills, Abiqua, Crooked Finger and Victor Point. “It’s very diverse because we’ve got the farmland and timberland and all the hills,” Miles said. “You get people that want to isolate themselves; have privacy in the country and they’ll have narrow steep driveways.”

The fire district doesn’t rely solely on taxes. Grambusch started writing grants in 2002 after 9/11 reignited the federal FIRE Act grant program. Since then, through his efforts the district has received more than $2.5 million in grants.

Silverton just received $280,000 for seismic upgrades to three outlying stations; three years ago a similar grant upgraded the Scotts Mills station.

Grants have helped patch their 54 breathing apparatus together but they’ve worn out their lifetime. Many aspects of the department need major attention. For instance, Silverton’s fire truck fleet exceeds industry standard (no more than 20 years) with an average age of 24 years; the oldest front line pumper truck is 44 years old.

“I think this community is so fortunate to have a large pool of dedicated volunteers willing to sacrifice their time and their energy and their lives in some cases and I think it’s really our duty not let ourselves get behind,” Miles said.

Grambusch said much has changed since the last bond measure was approved.

“Calls for service have increased by 44 percent, there is a great deal more required training, there are more volunteer firefighters – and greater demands put on our volunteer personnel and equipment,” he said.

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