October 22, 2008
Corrected — 4:30 p.m. October 24, 2008
Fire station needed sooner or later
At some point, Issaquah will need another fire station. The ballot question before voters Nov. 4 should really ask, “Are you ready to vote for this now, or do you want to wait a couple more years?”
Currently, the fire station is operating from a warehouse near the intersection of Maple Street and state Route 900. It became a temporary station in 2000, expected to house firefighters and equipment for five to eight years. Eight years later, the City Council has decided to go to the voters.
There is no real rush, although the warehouse is slated for future redevelopment and the station would have no place to relocate if it had to. Pushing the bond vote out two more years could be iffy.
A new fire station will also cost more two years from now. But, realistically, there will be more property owners by then to share the cost, so it’s immaterial.
City residents won’t be footing the cost of the new station by themselves. The property for the station is already paid for. Fire District 10, a player in the EFR consortium that includes the city of Issaquah, will contribute $2 million. City reserves will cover $1.5 million. Voters are being asked to tax themselves for the remaining $4.5 million, or about $29 per year for a property valued at $500,000.
The city of Issaquah has a track record of being cautious before going to voters with any bond request. The parks bond last year was the first in nearly two decades. And when the city does come asking, it’s usually with a simple issue. Bond votes for a new library and a police station passed easily.
Keeping it simple usually spells success for the city. Residents are able to clearly understand the issue and the need. The new fire station is a simple request, but the need to fund it now is not quite as straight forward.
One thing we do know is that the fire station is an essential component of EFR. A new fire station facility must be funded, sooner or later.