Voters to decide on Buckley fire station

Buckley City Council members voted unanimously to place a construction bond measure for a new Buckley fire station on the April 27 ballot.

Voters will be able to approve or deny the city the right to issue a bond that could cost up to $5 million and be paid back through property tax levies for up to 30 years.

The potential cost was estimated by Group MacKenzie, the architecture and engineering firm that designed the new fire station, and sent to Fire Chief Alan Predmore the evening of March 5.

“After reviewing Group MacKenzie’s estimates, I think they are very realistic estimates for the cost of the fire station,” Predmore told the council. “It accounts for extra costs – because any of you who have worked in construction know unforeseen things come up – but they didn’t go with an overly optimistic low figure either.”

Voter approval would allow for payments to the bond holder through property tax levies for up to 30 years, but the actual term of the bond could be less. A table accompanying the bill showed cost projections at $3 million, $4 million and $5 million, for bond terms of 20 years, and at $5 million for terms of 25 and 30 years. Longer bond terms mean reduced monthly and annual costs to taxpayers, but interest creates a greater overall cost during the lifetime of the bond. The interest on a $5 million bond over a 30-year term could actually double the cost to taxpayers to $9.28 million.

Councilwoman Cristi Boyle-Barrett noted that the 20-year term offered the greatest long-term saving to property owners, and offered an amendment that would alter the ballot to guarantee voters terms of 20 years or less.

Councilman Randy Reed objected to her reasoning on the grounds that current costs are only estimates and that the advantages of each bond term could change. Predmore added that the actual bond likely would not be negotiated until November. Reed argued that keeping the language to “30 years or less” would give the city freedom to choose a 20-year term, but the reverse was not true.

The amendment to change the language of the ordinance failed.

In other action, the council:

• approved the White River High School cross country team’s request to host the White River 5K run June 19.

• heard a presentation from state Senate candidate Ron Weigelt of Bonney Lake. Weigelt encouraged community members planting vegetable gardens this season to “grow a row for the hungry,” and said he would like to see the development of a community giving garden.

• approved a contract with Gasaway Consulting Group to provide leadership training to the fire department.

• declared a fine screen at the Wastewater Treatment Plant as surplus material up for sale.

• approved a resolution exempting the city from maintaining a public records index. The records will still be available upon request, but the city will no longer be required by state law to maintain a searchable list of those records.

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