I am very pleased to report that all six council members now agree that the city is NOT going to "merge" with the county. There is also unanimous agreement among the that at least two additional fire stations must be built. The first will be at or near Laurel Canyon and the second at .
The city has taken the first step with the creation of the fire protection district. The State of Georgia Constitution "permits special districts to be created for the provision of local government services within such districts, and permits, fees, assessments, and taxes to be levied and collected within such districts to pay the cost of providing such services within the district." In this case, the entire city is the district. The .
The decision now before us is how to pay for the two stations and their associated operating costs? In other words, how do we fund the district?
The cost to build one new station is $750,000. To build two new fire stations, we need to raise $1.5 million. We already have the land for both stations. We already have the fire engine and support trucks for one additional station. The cost for a new engine and support vehicles for the second station is $500,000. Therefore, we need to raise a total of $2 million for two new fire stations, one new engine and support vehicles.
The cost to fully staff one station runs between $500,000 and $600,000, therefore we need about $1.1 million annually to staff the two new stations. This includes the turnout gear for each firefighter.
The Laurel Canyon station is needed immediately. The Marketplace station will be needed in two to three years or by .
Thus far, no funding decisions have been made. A myth has been floating around that the senior property tax exemption has been reduced or eliminated. This is . Nothing whatsoever has changed with the exemption. There are several options on the table for funding the district, none of which touches the exemption. The exemption was created by referendum and can be changed only by referendum.
In my opinion, it would be reasonable for all property owners to pay something, most likely, about $25 per year for a $50,000 house and $250 per year for a $500,000 house.
Canton City Council member Glen Cummins, who voted against the creation of a special fire district, clarified his position Monday in an email to colleagues.
There is a misconception being circulated as to how I stand relative to the
expansion and improvement of Fire Services to the citizens of Canton.
The City Council has voted to maintain control under the city umbrella of
its fire department. I fully support that decision and will do all that is
necessary to expand and improve those services under city management and control.
This does not imply that I agree that the creation of a Fire District is the best way to fulfill that goal of expanding and improving services. The Mayor
has charged a committee with the development of a 5 to 10 year plan
relative to the city's provision of needed services. That committee needs to
accomplish the following:
1. Determine in detail specifically what expansions and improvements are
needed by the city of Canton.
2. Specify a time when each each expansion and improvement is to be
completed and provided to our citizens.
3. Calculate the cost of each and every improvement and expansion to be
4. Specify where the funds will be derived from in order to accomplish the
In addition, a detailed implementation schedule should be developed showing
step by step what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who is
responsible for its completion.
This should clarify any misunderstanding as to where I stand on this
topic. If anyone disagrees with the preceding plan of action, please state
via return email what I may have overlooked and or where I am not on the same page with the rest of the council.