The city of Sugar Creek will ask voters April 7 to approve a half-cent sales tax for 10 years to help fund the city’s fire department.
City officials estimate the tax would generate about $130,000 per year, to be used for a new pumper truck, equipment and additional staff training.
If approved, the tax would expire in 2030 unless voters decide to extend it.
“It’s been something we’ve talked about for a few years,” said Sugar Creek Fire Chief Nathan Richardson, who ascended to the role last year, succeeding now city administrator Pat Casey. “He (Casey) did a great job of reaching out and getting several grants that helped cover us, and we’ll still be looking for every opportunity there.”
But now the department’s needs are a little larger, Richardson said.
Foremost, the pumper 2 truck, the department’s primary reserve that from 2001 to 2015 was the primary truck, is approaching the average 20-year lifespan for fire trucks and will need to be replaced. Richardson said he also hopes to eventually replace a rescue truck from 1994.
Secondly, the department will have to replace all 40 air bottles for its self-contained breathing apparatus packs within the next seven years. Their shelf life is about 15 years, Richardson said, and bottles cost about $1,000 apiece.
Also, funds would go toward keeping updated bunker gear in good supply for a department of 30 full-time and part-time firefighters and expanded training opportunities.
“We’re becoming a multi-hazard department, and we’re carrying more and more equipment,” Richardson said. “Five or six years ago, we ran about 400 to 600 calls a year; now we’re almost 1,000.
“NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is always researching and moving the bar for safety, and with that comes changes in equipment, and we’re trying to keep up with that as much as we can.”
Given the sales tax would have a sunset if approved, Richardson doesn’t want to commit to putting additional revenues toward personnel, but “they could relieve some pressure from the general fund for staffing.”