East Pierce Fire seeks support for first-ever bond on November ballot
East Pierce Fire & Rescue is preparing to ask voters to approve a bond issue for replacing and remodeling its fire stations and upgrading equipment.
The East Pierce Fire Board of Commissioners moved to direct Fire Chief Bud Backer to prepare and finalize a capital facilities bond that will come to voters in November.
The bond is estimated at $80 million for 20 years. If approved, that means an approximate 25 cents per $1,000 value increase for residents, or about $100 per year ($8.33 per month) for a house costing $400,000.
This is the first time East Pierce Fire has prepared a bond since its formation in 2000.
“We need to make a lot of adjustments to make things safe, make things more reasonable and updated … not only for our employees but particularly for the people we serve, and I hope we can get folks to go with us on this,” board chair Dale Mitchell said at a commissioners meeting on June 19.
The priority of the projects were based on conditions of the current facilities, safety issues and future impacts of population growth. Call volume in the service area is steadily increasing, from 8,305 calls in 2012 to 11,067 calls in 2017. Population is expected to be close to 130,000 people in 2040, nearly 40,000 more than there were in 2010.
The first phase would cover the replacement of four fire stations, the construction of a new fire station and upgrading emergency vehicles.
The Phase 1 projects are expected to be completed in a time line of six to eight years.
“Our biggest hurdle will be the anti-tax move because...we’re up against (Sound Transit 3) and the high increases that the state laid out there from the McCleary decision this year,” Backer said.
The stations involved in the first phase of the Capital Facilities bond are considered “priority projects” and include Station 111 in Bonney Lake, Station 112 in Prairie Ridge, Station 114 in West Lake Tapps and Station 118 in Edgewood.
Station 111 in Bonney Lake is currently in a leased space located at 18421 Veterans Memorial Dr. E. and would be relocated to a new headquarters station that will be built on a property located along Main Street that was already purchased in 2012.
Station 112 in Prairie Ridge is located at 12006 214th Ave. E. and also would be replaced. A new location is not yet determined but is desired to be farther southwest in order to more effectively serve Tehaleh, which does not currently have a fire station. Station 112 was built in 1976 and is unable to serve its response demands given the station’s limited capacity and small property, according to East Pierce Fire.
Station 114 in West Lake Tapps is located at 3206 W. Tapps Dr. E. and was originally built in 1970. The station has “significant structural and seismic deficiencies,” with bays that are too short for current fire engines. The property is not large enough to support any building additions, so the station would be replaced on an undetermined property.
Station 118 in Edgewood, located at 10105 24th St E. and built in 1948, is the oldest station in the district. Lacking adequate bays and modern fire station features such as sprinkler systems, the station would be replaced on the same property.
Phase One also includes Station 117. Haven’t heard of it? That’s because it doesn’t exist yet. It would be located in Tehaleh to serve the growing area, including Plateau 465. The area has been identified as one of the fastest-growing areas in the coming years, according to Rice Fergus Miller, an architecture firm working with East Pierce Fire on the capital facilities projects.
Phase 2 of the Capital Facilities projects would remodel or replace the remaining fire stations. It would also give East Pierce Fire time to decide if a new training facility would be included in the phase.
Station 113 is located at 800 Harrison St. in Sumner and is the newest station in the district at 26 years old. It would undergo a remodel after funds are collected for Phase 2.
Station 115 is currently a volunteer station located at 1605 210 Ave. E. in Lake Tapps. The station would undergo a remodel as it transitions from volunteer staffing to career staffing.
Station 116 is located at 10515 234th Ave. E. in Buckley and would be remodeled to increase capacity due to its aging condition and an increase in call volume in the area.
Station 124 is a volunteer station located at 1000 Laurel St. in Milton and will be replaced on land that is not yet determined.
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