Voters asked to OK new fire station in Grain Valley

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

With population booming north of Interstate 70 in its coverage area, the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District aims to build an additional fire station.

The fire district will ask voters in April to approve $10 million in bonds to build and equip the new station, and a 30-cent levy increase that would pay for 24 firefighters to staff the station.

The fire district includes most of Blue Springs and Grain Valley and surrounding unincorporated areas and all of Lake Tapawingo. Fire Chief Jeff Grote said the department’s recent demographic study showed the district’s population would increase about 27 percent over the next eight years. Right now, just one of the district’s five stations is north of I-70 – the station on Jefferson Street just west of Adams Dairy Parkway.

The new station would be at the corner of Duncan and Dillingham roads, just inside Grain Valley, across from Prairie Branch Elementary School, and the fire district has already bought the land, knowing for some time it would have to make these requests from the voters.

“The biggest need right now is north of I-70 and closer to Grain Valley,” Grote said. “We make a habit of not going to the public for frivolous projects. This is not a feel-good issue; it’s for public safety. If we have a segment of the district that takes three minutes longer to get to, it’s a public safety issue, to have another station in an area that’s exploded in growth.”

The bond issue will not increase taxes. The levy is for an additional $0.30 per $100 of assessed valuation. For a home worth $110,000 in Jackson County, with an assessed valuation of $20,900, that’s an extra $62.70 per year, or $5.23 per month.

By state law, the two ballot measures can’t be contingent on each other, but Grote said the two essentially go hand-in-hand, and if one passes and the other doesn’t, the fire district will likely continue to seek voter approval on whichever one doesn’t pass.

The CJC district hasn’t raised its tax levy in nearly 20 years, Grote said, and based on prior voter requests to issue bonds, along with the district’s accreditation and highest insurance rating, he believes the district has strong citizen support.

“I’ll put our organization against the whole region,” the chief said, “and I believe people know that.”