The decision to demolish Ye Olde Firehouse was a practical one, not based on economics, Richter said. The facility was in dire need of repairs, not including the work that would have to be done to bring it up to code. The repairs alone would cost $3.2 million, he said. Knocking it down and building a comparable facility would cost $4.25 million.
“It’s not economically feasible to use taxpayers money to repair the Ye Olde Firehouse,” Richter said.
Instead, the board decided to demolish it and build a 2,000-square-foot command center in its place, which would cost only $1.57 million. The new building would house a conference and training room and administrative offices.
The board would use a 23-year bond to finance the project. The owner of a home with a market value of $400,000 would pay around $9.19 per month for the life of the bond. For a home valued at $600,000, the cost would be approximately $13.79 per month.
When one resident asked about alternate funding, such as Federal Emergency Management Agency grants, Richter said it was not likely that the department would receive such funding, but if it did, it would go toward paying down the bond earlier.
He explained that the department makes a point of being fiscally conservative so it doesn’t have to appeal to the public every time it needs new equipment. But these are large-scale repairs that the department needs in order to function, he said.
“We try hard every year to work diligently to have a surplus,” Richter said, adding that the department has not raised the tax levy in eight years. “We fight to create surplus so that we don’t have to ask you for additional funds.”
He acknowledged that some people were upset at the thought of losing Ye Olde Firehouse, which many consider a community center. “We ask that you look at it not from the side of emotion, but the side of need,” Richter said. “Hopefully you’ll agree that it’s worthwhile.”