KRUM — City officials continued their efforts to convince residents that the city needs a new fire station and a new public works facility during a City Council meeting Monday night.
This November, the city will leave it up to the voters to decide whether or not they want the city to use tax bonds to construct the two new buildings. But the few residents who attended Monday’s meeting said they feel that voters made their answer clear during the May election when the same ballot items failed.
Residents said that they’re not in favor of issuing tax bonds to pay for the buildings because that would mean the city would need to raise taxes to repay the debt.
However, Fire Chief Ken Swindle and Public Works Director Adam Farguson said their departments are outgrowing their facilities and that the new buildings are necessary to keep the departments running smoothly.
Swindle and Farguson gave a presentation on the two proposed facilities and took questions from the audience. City officials said that the city is continuing to grow, and if the changes are not made now, then the city can’t be served effectively.
In 2010, Krum had about 4,100 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and according to state data and population projections, the city’s population will nearly double in about 30 years.
And by 2060, the state anticipates that the city will reach nearly 14,000 residents, according to state records.
Council member Bert Witherspoon said he’s in favor of passing the bonds because the buildings will help ensure that the city is prepared to handle future growth.
He added that the work needs to be completed now, before the burden is passed along to future generations.
According to Swindle, the new fire station will cost about $1.9 million, which is a little less than what was proposed in the spring. The public works building is estimated to cost about $300,000.
“The growth is not going to slow down,” Farguson said. “Our demands will increase because that happens when we grow.”
Swindle said he believes the original ballot item failed because of misinformation, stating that residents believed that the fire station and public works buildings were unnecessary.
He said he encourages everyone to visit his fire station to see firsthand what the conditions are and how the firefighters live.
In the future, Swindle said, he hopes to add additional medics and firefighters, but the current station is too small to expand his staff.
Officials said now is the time to invest, because while interest rates are low, they are beginning to increase.
Residents at the meeting told council members that they believe there are alternative solutions to using bonds and raising taxes.
In other business, the city held a public hearing on the proposed property tax rate. Next week, the city will consider adopting a tax rate that does not exceed 66.3855 cents per $100 of taxable value, and residents in attendance encouraged the council to avoid any increase.
The city also presented a balanced $2.6 million operations budget that will be up for consideration next week.
The budget includes an across-the-board 2 percent pay raise for all city employees, digital radios for first responders and two air conditioning units.
According to city officials, the city’s proposed budget is balanced without a tax rate increase.
“This is a balanced budget and the council worked very hard to make sure the city is fiscally responsible,” said Chris Speights, Krum finance director.
Witherspoon said he’s impressed with what the city has been able to do with such a tight budget.
“The city operates on a $2.65 million budget,” he said. “That’s not a lot. This is a sound budget and it’s conservative.”
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.