By Jeff Grant for Daily News-Sun
Faced with few cash-raising options and a mounting list of capital expenses, the Sun City Fire & Medical Department is considering asking voters’ permission to sell bonds to investors.
The move would generate around $16M while raising taxes slightly.
The bond monies would fund a new fire station and replace one or two pieces of equipment, according to Fire Chief Mike Thompson.
The bond proceeds would fund the capital upgrades. The fire district would repay the investors, using funds raised by the additional tax money.
Topping the district’s priorities is a new facility to replace the existing Station 133 at 111th Avenue and Windsor Drive, a new ladder truck and a few other pieces of equipment, the chief said.
Special districts such as the Sun City Fire District are limited in the ability to generate capital funds for several reasons. Arizona law bars them from raising their tax rates beyond $3.25 per $100 of assessed value. Proposition 117, passed by Arizona voters in 2012, amended the state constitution to cap annual increases in property values used to figure tax rates to 5 percent over the previous year. The measure was intended to protect property taxpayers large tax hikes tied to dramatic increases in valuations.
Old facilities, equipment
Built in the 1960s, Sun City Fire & Medical’s Station 133 is essentially a house with a garage. At around 5KSF, the entire interior, with the exception of the bay, would fit inside the den or family room area of Station 132 at 99th Avenue and Bell Road.
In addition to a common bathroom for men and women, the older station lacks individual bunk space. Its gang bunk area is merely feet from the bay where engines are parked – and fumes emanate from, noted Sherry Neely, a battalion chief with the department.
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