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The Cost of Improving Canton's Fire Service

We need to raise a total of $2 million for two new fire stations, one new engine and support vehicles. And we need about $1.1 million annually to staff the two new stations.

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.

FAST FACTS

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.

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
accomplished.
4. Specify where the funds will be derived from in order to accomplish the
improvements desired.

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.

Glen

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Justin Ready August 07, 2012 at 01:24 PM
So, to translate the double talk. You have voted to create a special tax district so that you can levy a new tax to fund these stations. Be it for the seniors or for everyone, a NEW TAX will be created. The district should not have been created until a FORMAL plan was in place. You can use creative language however you like..but a new tax is on the way!
Bill Bryan August 07, 2012 at 02:00 PM
That is exactly what I said. What part is not clear? This IS a new tax. Do you think 24-7 Fire Protection is free? Do you think that $25 a year for a $50,000 house is too much?
Etowahwah August 07, 2012 at 02:43 PM
So we need new fire stations but can't afford them. Our police department is in disarray, and long time officers are being fired or quitting due to performing their job in a routine stop of the City Manager. Our water department and system is beyond hope at this point. A certain Councilman is having his home plumbing repairs paid for by the city. Deals are being cut behind the scene, just like the good old days. It appears to me that one common denominator to all of this is that our city is being MISMANAGED. There is an overabundance of day-to-day issues that point to this conclusion. So who is responsible for managing the city? It's our notorious City Manager, Scott Wood. If Mr. Bryan and the rest of the Council truly believe in exposing and acting on the truth, they should start there. It's time to find a new City Manager that work with the Council and Mayor from a clean slate to address these fundamental issues. We all know that if we wait for the City Council to get on the same page, it will be far to late to fix our broken city.
Justin Ready August 07, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Well, just say it like this: 1: Our city is broke because of mismanagement. 2: We do not have adaquite fire service. 3: We cannot afford adaquite fire service. 4: We look for an easy target (Seniors and Disabled) 5: When the council got push back, the story changed. 6: Now the City if going to find a way to tax everyone for a service that does NOT have plan. 7: Laural Canyon paid $1 million for a fire station that did not happen. WHERE DID THAT MONEY GO? Simply disgusting.
Etowahwah August 07, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Councilman Bryan, you say this is the "truth" about this matter, but is it simply YOUR truth? If it is the definitive truth and the entire council agrees with your truth, then this post would have been much more effective and believable if it came from the ENTIRE council. Forgive me if I appear somewhat apprehensive to take a single Councilman's words to the bank. As demonstrated in last week's Council Meeting and countless others, it is obvious that our entire council and Mayor rarely agrees on anything. It is also clear that many of you have your own hidden agendas, and you work to embarrass and undermine your colleagues as opposed to collaborating in the best interest of the citizens you serve. If this is the "truth" as supported by the entire council, then why did you not present it in the meeting last week? Could it be that you, and your cohorts, were too busy trying to disarm the Mayor's Veto in some power struggle of comical proportions? We would like to hear the council speak as one voice as opposed to rogue, unilateral comments. Respectfully, the citizens of Canton can no longer automatically accept the "truth" from elected officials who continue to behave badly. Yes, when it comes to taxes, fire service, water supply and police protection, we've been BURNED before.
Frank Jones August 07, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Mr. Bryan...You mentioned a tax of $25 to $250/yr based upon the value of the house. What about all of the business property and vacant land that also benefit from the fire department. Do you propose implementing a tax on them as well? Also, couldn't this be achieve simply by increasing the city's millage rate?
Rodney Thrash August 07, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Posts that attack others will be removed. Please keep the discussion on topic and civil.
Justin Ready August 07, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Frank...raising the millage would have been the smart thing to discuss...
Bill Bryan August 07, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Mr. Jones... First thank you for using your real name....I assume that is your real name? The Fire District includes every piece of property in the city; homes, land, businesses, everything. There are no exemptions. There are at least two specific benefits of using the Fire District. The first benefit: Fairer to ALL taxpayers. The millage rate I am using in the example is 1.25. If we simply raised the millage, the Seniors would be left out of this tax and we would have to raise it much higher on the rest of the property owners. The overwhelming majority of Seniors in Canton do want to pay something towards their Fire and Emergency Services. The second benefit: Total accountability. The law requires every penny collected in a special district to be used for the specific purpose. There will be no question of misuse of tax dollars collected in the district like we are still dealing with from the previous administration.
Justin Ready August 07, 2012 at 06:31 PM
We must remember, this is a BLOG written by Bill Bryan and not an objective article written by the press.
Etowahwah August 07, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Mr. Bryan, why do you continue to attack, bully and disparage any constituent that disagrees with you or challenges your version of the truth? You can not blame the citizens of Canton the confusion that YOU helped to create. If your plan, or that of others, was presented before the Veto fiasco, there may be more willingness to explore it further. Within the context of your behavior at the last few Council meetings, it seems your first response is to attack and lash out. This approach is not appropriate from an elected official, and it is alienating to your constituents. Many of us have minds of our own, and we are entitled to our opinion. We also have the right to question the integrity and truth of our Council, especially when they invite us to question their competency with constant lack of decorum and civility.
Etowahwah August 07, 2012 at 09:30 PM
So how much tax do you estimate that will be paid by Northside Hospital for the new fire station that will service them, or will they get a pass like they did on the road, impact fees and water service?
Bill Bryan August 08, 2012 at 11:39 AM
The hospital will pay property tax into the district the same as other property owner in the city. The amount will be based on the appraised value of their property the same as any other property owner in the city. Their millage rate will be the same as for any other property owner in the city.
Etowahwah August 08, 2012 at 03:35 PM
http://canton-ga.patch.com/articles/bryan-senior-homestead-exemption-unfair So Mr. Bryan, have you changed your mind? Which "truth" should we believe from you? And you wonder why the seniors are concerned?
Justin Ready August 08, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Again...your lack of decorum and transparency is astounding. It looks like the subject was not changed and was a very valid link. Has your opinion changed? Yes or No Mr. Bryan? Also, I think you were already asked not to insult others by the Patch...you listen well I see.. Much like you listen to the poor seniors in your Ward.
Bill Bryan August 09, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Although the Senior Exemption is IRRELEVANT to the Fire District, I will address your question. I continue to believe the Senior Exemption is unfair. I also understand that there is ONLY one way to change it - by referendum. The majority of the Council has no interest in having a referendum, therefore the exemption will not be changed.
Justin Ready August 09, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Well, thanks for the honest answer. We now have in writing where you stand on the senior tax exemption.
Bill Bryan August 09, 2012 at 07:31 PM
You're welcome. Any other questions? It is apparent that you still do not have a complete understanding of the Fire issue. As I have said many times before, you will always get a completely truthful answer from me.
Bill Bryan August 09, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Not exactly the type of question I would expect. There aren't too many libs in Canton :) But yes you are right it is a new tax but a fair tax, or at least '"fairer". Unfortunately new fire stations do have to be built and it's too bad we don;t have the money from the developers who caused the need. Talk about somebody who does not pay their fair share.....bet we agree on that one don't we???
Bill Bryan August 09, 2012 at 11:45 PM
dang i forgot to ask, how was the gene&glen show?
Justin Ready August 10, 2012 at 01:08 PM
First of all, I did not say that I was a liberal. I am upset as a Tea Party Patriot that you and Canton are creating a NEW TAX. Secondly, what "show" are you referencing?
Change For Canton August 10, 2012 at 01:51 PM
BIll Bryan said: "dang i forgot to ask, how was the gene&glen show?" Justin, Bill Bryan is, very, disrespectfully referring to the Mayor's Town Hall Meeting last night. A meeting in which ALL of council should have attended if they really cared about what the citizens of Canton had to say. But, alas, only two councilmen attended. So I guess Mr. Bryan (who DID NOT attend) wants to send the messages that he does not support the Mayor and does not care what his constitutes think. These actions are just another example of Canton Council drama and turf wars. Also, Justin, the meeting was very good and quite productive. (Mr. Cummings and Mr. Huffman were the only council in attendance.) Mayor Hobgood has made the council and the City accessible to the people unlike the previous administration. It would appear that some of our council would rather make decisions without our knowledge, behind closed doors, like the Pruitt years. These four councilmen that did not attend prove that they have a stance against the Mayor and the People. Mr. Bryan, how could you make a comment like this publically? Should you really behave like this as an elected official? It is disgraceful to the City and everyone who lives within it.
Jennifer Dunn August 10, 2012 at 02:02 PM
The Town Hall was wonderful and nearly drama-free. I think it's great that the Mayor takes the time to throw these meetings and listen to the citizens. I also appreciated that Councilmen Cummins and Huffman took the time out of their busy schedules to be there and listen to the citizens. Councilman Huffman actually spoke quite a bit of the time so I'm not sure what you're referring to as the "Gene & Glen Show" unless you mean the musical number at the end? ;)
Bill Bryan August 10, 2012 at 02:56 PM
sorry i missed it but i do have other commitments. you should try talking directly to me.....always accessable, always transparent.....just ask. i've spent the better part of the last three weeks working on city business; mostly this fire thing. you sure do make lots of assumptions about me......and you know where that leads! so did anybod ask gene&glen about their little drama act at the wednesday planning session? btw you got me curious.....musical number?? sounds fun!
Etowahwah August 10, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Once again, Mr. Bryan, you're showing your true colors by slamming the Mayor's Town Hall Meeting. How disrespectful and petty! It is quite obvious that you have no intention of conducting the city's business in a professional and rational manner, and you have no interest in working with others. If you can not be constructive, civil and productive, why don't you simply step aside? No one would think less of you, and you may even gain a little respect back from your constituents. I also thought the Town Hall Meeting was constructive, and it was nice to discuss and debate some of the big issues in a civilized manner. One VERY alarming detail, however, was the mention of closing the downtown fire station if and when the two new stations are built. This would be a TRAVESTY! After Mr. Bryan and others complained about loosing our fire department to the county in consolidation, they have apparently been talking behind the scenes about closing the downtown station. What about all of the businesses, homes and City Hall? I guess Mr. Rush's neighborhood, Laurel Canyon, and Sembler's Canton Place deserve better fire protection than downtown Canton. Due to the current dysfunctional state of our city leaders, Canton is being dismantled piece by piece. It's a sad day indeed.
Bill Bryan August 10, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Your double standard is amazing with respect to "respect". In March the Council agreed in a public meeting that all discussion and consideration of a Fire "merger" would cease and that Canton would keep it's Fire Department. Gene&Glen relentlessly continued to pursue the issue. THAT is disrespectful, not only of the council but the taxpayers and all citizens as well. Gene&Glen have needlessly put all concerned through 5 months of unnecessary strife & dissension; accomplishing nothing and wasting huge amounts of everybody's time. Now we are up against a time deadline and are looking at the possibility of delaying the project another year. I'm sure you are aware that Gene changed Mr. Beresford's Fire Ordinance without telling him or any other council members - except Glen. We now have to correct it back to it's original form which possibly could result in another veto and override bringing further unnecessary delays. If I had done such a thing to Gene you would be screaming for my head on a platter - but with you, Gene gets a pass. I know I'm wasting my time talking to a faceless person too cowardly to even state their name, therefore you are not deserving of mine or anybody else's respect. To Ms. Dunn, courageous enough to tell us who she is, I will be glad to sit down with her at a place and time of her choosing if she is interested in hearing the other side of this entire issue. bill.bryan@canton-georgia.com

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