A plan placed on the back burner almost two years ago is back in the spotlight.
On Tuesday, the Stephenville City Council took what could be the first step to construction of a new fire station. The council approved the publication of a notice of intent to issue certificates of obligation to fund the construction of the fire station and also make street improvements across the city.
The notices will pertain to the possible issuance of $4 million in debt, with an estimated $1.5 million being used for major street reconstruction projects and $2.5 million on the fire station. But exactly how the money will be spent - if the certificates are acquired - will not be determined until a later date.
Unlike a bond election, certificates of obligation do not require voter approval. Tuesday's move allows for a 30-day notice and public comment period prior to the adoption of the tax rate for the coming fiscal year on Sept. 20, according to City Administrator Mark Kaiser.
"This allows us to advertise and seek public comments," Kaiser said.
In presenting a timeline to the council, Kaiser said the notices of intent will be published on Aug. 8 and 12 prior to a public hearing over the proposed budget and tax rate on Aug. 16.
Councilman Alan Nash said he would support the maintenance of the city's debt, infrastructure and capital needs, but would not say what expenditures he would support until full consideration is given to the entire budget.
Budget deliberations will begin Monday and continue through the week.
"I don't mind exploring (the issuance of debt), but I am not sold on the usage," Nash said.
How the money will be spent is an issue for a later time, according to Kaiser. He said the acquired debt would have to be spent on street improvements and fire station construction as outlined in the public notices, but the council will have the final say on how the money would be allocated between the projects. He said the council could opt to spend all of the $4 million on one of the projects or divide between the two as they choose.
"I am giving you the options and opportunities to make a decision when the time comes," Kaiser said, adding that the issue at hand was not the approval of debt issuance but following a required legal timeline.
Fire Station No. 2
In November 2009, the city unveiled a multimillion dollar plan for the relocation and construction of a new fire station that detailed a more than 16,000 square foot facility with an estimated cost of more than $5 million. The estimate included construction cost, which was $260 per square foot at the time, and contingency planning costs and other fees and expenses totaling almost $1 million.
The plan was put on the back burner, awaiting better economic times.
The design, as presented in 2009, includes three double bays, which would accommodate six vehicles and space for EMS storage, decontamination and bunker gear rooms and a shop and lawn equipment storage. The living quarters can accommodate a staff of eight firefighters and one captain per shift and includes a kitchen and dining area as well as weight and laundry rooms.
The administration wing includes six offices to accommodate the fire chief, training officer, fire marshal, fire inspector, administrative assistant and a potential future addition to the staff. A training and conference area will accommodate 35.
A city-owned property at Pecan Hill Drive and the Northwest Loop is the proposed future site of Fire Station No. 2, which is currently located at the corner of North Harbin Drive and West Frey Street.
Once construction begins, completion will take an estimated 18-20 months, and city officials believe the new station should be able to serve the city for half a century.
"We have designed the station to accommodate the department for at least 50 years," Chew said in 2009.