Thursday, October 4, 2012

City Council summary 10/3/2012

The hot topic at the City Council meeting was the Fire District.

Battalion Fire Chief Jay Ziolkowski was asked to present additional information to help council members in their decision on whether or not to continue the Fire District annexation.

Ziolkowski said the data that Chief Jensen shared last month showed trends over several years, but he wanted to share a "balance sheet, or snapshot in time" to show some of the information. The total call volume in Taylorsville last fiscal year (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012) was approximately 3,950 incidents. Of those, 783 were covered by units outside of Taylorsville, while the units from Stations 117 and 118 went outside the City only 441 times. 

He also discussed response times. Surprisingly, the response times within Taylorsville are below average and fair better than most every station inside of UFA. Note, however, that response times from outside agencies coming into Taylorsville (Murray, West Jordan and West Valley) are not included in this assessment and would obviously be longer on average. 

Many people have also asked the cost of building a fire station. Ziolkowski said that the average cost to build a District station is about $3.5 million, including the property.  This is below national averages, and each station is built as a 100 year building.  Modification to current design (single floor layout, smaller bays) could reduce the cost, but may impact current and future service delivery capabilities.

Councilmember Rechtenbach stated that Station 117 needs to be rebuilt. He wondered if when we rebuild Station 117, we could move it further south down Redwood Road and avoid needing to build a third station. He said some of his constituents have stated they don’t want to take away control. "One of the purposes of looking into the District is for alternative funding. If we decide the district is not the way to go and we pull back our application for annexation, we need to open the budget to fund the $1.9 million shortfall for our UFA contract. Some think if we don’t join the District there would not be additional taxes needed, but that is not true," said Rechtenbach. 

Councilmember Overson said she appreciated UFA and all they do for the city. She also appreciates input from her constituents in District 2. She thinks Taylorsville has been well-served by UFA and will continue to be well-served. After reviewing the info and hearing feedback, she said she hears from her constituents that they understand they need to pay for services but don’t want to give up taxing control. "I am accountable to my district and they have clearly let me know. I want to withdraw my interest in the Fire District, but understand there will still be a tax increase next year to properly fund fire service,” said Overson. 

Councilmember Barbour says her area is about split. “I want to go on record to say never would I be offended that my neighbors have signed a petition,” she said. "I go back to my original question - do we pay as we go, or do we bond? We know what our city needs are. We know we have a shortfall in this budget. If the residents say “let’s bond” and take care of these things ourselves, then I will bond and next year have to have that payment in the budget. I am still very concerned about our economic development - we all are.”

Councilmember Johnson said he has talked to his constituents and feels they are not supportive of the Fire District. He continues to be opposed to joining. Rechtenbach said he is fine to hear that council members are opposed, but stated that council members cannot just say "No" to every tax increase, but then not come up with any solutions.

Councilmember Burgess said other cities have invested in economic development and have funds for some of these things. "I have tried to explain this to my constituents and they are not in favor of this," he said. "When the day is over, I want to make sure our people are taken care of. When it’s your grandpa or child and they need help and it doesn’t come because of the decisions we made here, we’ve got to look at that. My whole thing is making sure I do what my constituents want. I want to understand where they are coming from and take care of their needs." 

The point was made that Murray has two-thirds the residents of Taylorsville and has almost double the fire staff. Ziolkowski said they brought up the idea of joining the Fire District so it is a perpetual funding source. Then they are not fighting with parks and rec or other departments for proper funding each year.

For the next blog post, I will be outlining what the residents are saying and what concerns are about this issue.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad to see that the council members appear to be listening to their constituents. Special service districts are the perfect way for a politician to absolve themselves of hard decisions. In the end Taylorsville residents will have little control and almost zero recourse if/when the Fire District runs wild, bingeing on tax payer dollars. When it comes to fire services, you have to find a balance of funding good enough protection with what you can afford. Firefighters are great, but sometimes go overboard planing for worst-case scenarios. If given access to unlimited funds I am sure we would have a team of firefighters specially trained and equipped to deal with a hurricane in Utah. Just in case one makes it this far inland.


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