JOHN DAY – Fire Chief Ron Smith was “a little relieved” but also thrilled with last week’s primary election, when voters in both the City of John Day and the John Day Rural Fire District said yes to a new fire station.
Bond measures to fund the joint project were approved by votes of 305 to 198 in the city and 252 to 180 in the rural district.
“It was a good solid win,” Smith said, quipping “no dangling chads, no need for a recount.”
City Manager Peggy Gray also was pleased.
“We really thank the voters for their support and confidence in the fire department,” she said.
The John Day City Council planned to discuss next steps with their financial adviser at Tuesday night’s regular council meeting, past press time. Members of the rural fire board also planned to be on hand.
Smith said he will be talking with Rob Batten and other leaders of the rural district on how to proceed. He also plans to look over a similar project built by the McKenzie Fire and Rescue District, which came in at similar cost.
Officials estimate the John Day fire station will cost $1.8 million, including property purchase, demolition of existing building, site preparation, design and construction. The bond measures will raise some $1.2 million toward the project, with the balance coming largely from grants and donations.
Smith acknowledged there were some voters unhappy with the estimated cost or other aspects of the plan, but he pledged to make the project efficient and affordable.
“I’ll just have to prove to them that we’re going to do what we say we’ll do, and we’re not going to gouge the people,” he said.
He said the vote made it clear that many voters saw the need for a new station and trusted the departments to be reasonable.
The bond sales are approved at $655,000 for the city and $550,000 for the rural district.
The tax rate for property taxpayers in both jurisdictions to pay off the bond has been estimated to start at about 61.5 cents per $1,000 valuation, and decrease over the 20-year term to about 42 cents per $1,000.