On the May 18th ballot, voters of the Woodburn Fire District will consider a 20 year bond request for capital expenses at the same initial tax rate as the current bond. The proposed bond would replace the district’s current 20-year bond that expires in 2022 with no funds levied until the current bond expires.
If approved by voters, the bond would raise approximately 12.7 million for capital expenditures including emergency response vehicles, district facilities, and life-saving equipment such as thermal imagers, breathing apparatus, cardiac monitors, and other emergency equipment. The fire district would continue funding long-term capital expenses through bond revenue, as it has for the last 20 years. This would allow the district to retain all firefighter-medics who provide emergency medical and fire response for 39,000 people that reside within the 75 square miles served by the fire district. As per Oregon tax law, bond funds can only be used for equipment and facility expenses that have at least a 10 year life span.
With the maintenance of current response capability along with improvements made possible with bond funds, the district expects to see an improvement in the fire district insurance rating that will save residential property owners about half the total annual cost of the bond.
How will the bond funds be used?
Emergency Response Vehicles –
The majority of the bond revenue has been allocated for the replacement of aging emergency vehicles that respond from the district’s four fire stations. The usable life span of fire engines, trucks, tenders, and support vehicles is 30 to 40 years. The vehicle replacements in the 20 year bond projections include:
- 3 Fire-Paramedic engines, a ladder truck, 3 water tenders (for hauling water to fires where there are no hydrants) and a mobile air compressor vehicle for refilling breathing apparatus used by firefighters working in hazardous environments.
- A medical rescue vehicle to provide faster patient transport to hospitals in high-call situations when out-of-district ambulances with longer travel times must be used.
- One brushfire truck for more rapid access to wildland fire locations in the rural areas of the district. The brush vehicle will also have the capability to provide backup medical response when necessary.
Emergency Response Equipment Replacement –
The Fire District has an ongoing need to replace equipment used in the delivery of emergency services as it becomes worn or obsolete. Approximately 20 percent of the bond funds would be used to ensure that the district’s firefighter-medics are supplied with up-to-date emergency medical equipment, such as cardiac monitors and chest compression systems, that can substantially improve patient survival rates.
Bond funds will also allow the District to replace out-of-date thermal imagers and breathing apparatus (SCBAs) used by firefighter-medics to enter burning structures to extinguish fire and save lives. Some of the equipment expenses that have been forecast over the next 20 years include:
- Emergency Communication Radios
- Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
- Cardiac Heart Monitors / Defibrillators
- Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment
- Vehicle & Machinery Extrication Equipment
Gervais Fire Station Reestablishment –
About 4.5% of the bond funds would be used to improve the speed of emergency response to the growing Gervais area by re-establishing a fire station that will be jointly funded and used by the Fire District and the City of Gervais.
The City of Gervais joined the Woodburn Fire District in 1986. The Fire District operated Station 23 in Gervais until 2007 when it was closed due to the lack of volunteer firefighters available to respond to the station. The fire district plans to use current college student volunteer firefighters that will live at the station to supplement the emergency response from other volunteer firefighters in the community that are backed up by career firefighters responding from Woodburn.
Facilities Maintenance and Training Center Investment –
Nearly twenty percent of the proposed bond proceeds have been allocated for fire district facilities over the 20 year term of the bond including:
- Reroof of the Waconda and Broadacres fire stations
- Stabilization of failing concrete block security wall at the district’s main statin
- Repaving projects at the district’s main station on Newberg Hwy and the James Street station
- Training center development
- Facility interior updates at 25 year intervals
Approximately ten percent of the facilities amount has been earmarked for the investment in a fire district training center. The district does not currently have a dedicated area to be used for firefighter training. Access to a training facility is needed for the development and maintenance of firefighting skills and has an impact on the Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating of the Fire District. The Woodburn Fire District currently has an ISO rating of “3” on a 1-10 scale with one being the best. With the maintenance of current firefighter-medic staffing levels and the addition of the proposed Gervais fire station and training facility, it is likely that the ISO rating can be improved to a rating of “2” resulting in an estimated five percent savings in the cost of fire insurance premiums for property owners in the fire district. The savings is expected to offset about half of the total annual cost of the bond for residential property owners.
How much will the bond cost?
The Woodburn Fire is funded by property taxes. As per directive from the fire district board of directors, the proposed replacement bond would have the same initial tax rate that the current bond began with in 2003. The replacement bond is estimated to be 26 cents per $1,000 of assessed value (not market value). As with the current bond, the rate is expected to decline somewhat over the bond’s 20-year lifespan. Resetting the bond to the 2003 rate will increase the monthly bond cost about 60 cents a month for a total of $7 dollars per year for the typical residential property. No funds will be levied for the replacement bond until the current bond expires in 2022.
The estimated amount of annual and monthly tax for the proposed replacement bond for a typical residence in the Woodburn Fire District is summarized as follows:
|Assessed Property Value||Cost Per Year||Cost Per Month|
|$175,000 (average for Fire District)||$46||$3.80|
|$325,000 (new construction estimate)||$85||$7.04|
Maintenance of Firefighter-medics to meet Current and Future Emergency Response Needs
The approval of the bond would allow funding of the capital expenses from revenue that is outside of the funds needed for firefighter-medics and daily fire district operations. Approval would allow the current staffing levels to be maintained and additional firefighter-medics added over the next 20 years with no additional taxes as the population of the 75 square miles served by the fire district continues to grow.
What will happen if the bond is not approved?
If the bond is not approved, critical equipment and facility expenditures would require the use of operating funds that would otherwise be used to retain firefighter-medics who provide emergency medical and fire response throughout the growing fire district.
The information in this document has been provided by Fire Chief Joe Budge. Any district resident with questions about the bond is encouraged to contact Chief Budge at 503-982-2360 or visit the district website at woodburnfire.com
Contact Info: Joe Budge, Fire Chief of Woodburn & Hubbard Fire Districts
Aaron Baker, President, Fire District Board of Directors
Susie Marstson, City of Gervais City Manager