City tries again to get bond passed

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John D. Harden/DRC
The Krum Fire Department’s laundry room also doubles as a storage room. Fire Chief Ken Swindle says the department needs a new station to relieve some of the clutter found throughout the station.

KRUM — Since a proposition to issue bonds to builda new fire station and public works facility failed at the polls in May, Krumcity officials have repeatedly expressed their views on the condition of thefire station and how it isn’t meeting the needs of the fire department.

On Tuesday, Krum residents will have a secondchance to either vote yes or no for $1.9 million in tax bonds that the citywould use to construct a new fire station, which would be double the size ofthe current one.

Opponents of the proposition say that the bond willadd to the city’s debt and the amount that residents have to pay in propertytaxes.

However, data from the Texas Bond Review Boardshows that Krum has one of the lowest tax debts per capita, compared to citiesand towns of similar size.

Those who don’t believe that Krum firefighters needa new station should take a tour of the old facility before the election, FireChief Ken Swindle said.

“This building was good at the time it was built, butit’s time for a change,” Swindle said.

The 6,000-square-foot building, which is locatednear the Krum water tower, is landlocked and doesn’t have any more room forexpansion. And the firefighters’ workout room is only a makeshift space in thevehicle bay that also doubles as a space for equipment storage.

In May, city officials placed a proposition on theballot for the issuance of $2.8 million in tax bonds for the new fire stationand a new public works facility.

Before that election, Swindle expressed confidencethat it would pass, citing that he received widespread positive feedback fromresidents about the fire station.

So, it was no surprise that he was shocked when theproposition failed, after voters deadlocked on the ballot — 175 to 175.

City officials blame the failed proposition on thespread of misinformation through the community.

Soon after the election, council members weighedtheir options and at one point discussed the possibility of issuingcertificates of obligation bonds, which do not require a citywide vote.

However, officials ultimately decided to take theissue back to the voters.

When giving a tour of the existing fire station,Swindle likes to point out the building’s deteriorating features and compactvehicle bay. The station has four bay doors for the vehicles, but soon, Swindlesaid, that won’t be enough.

In 2010, Krum had about 4,100 residents, accordingto the U.S. Census Bureau. 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 citywill reach nearly 14,000 residents, according to records.

The new station that the city proposes would offeran estimated 12,000 square feet, which Swindle says will give the firefightersenough room to work efficiently.

Unlike the first proposition in May, the citydecided to give the bonds for the fire station and public works building theirown separate propositions. City officials also shaved off $500,000.

Under the second proposition, residents can eitherapprove or deny the issuance of $426,000 in bonds for a public works buildingand a data system that officials will use to monitor water and sewer systems.

Officials say the public works department has alsooutgrown its building.

Swindle said the new fire station isn’t meant to beextravagant. He said he just wants the station to fit the needs of theemployees and the city.

“We’ll continue to run calls and help the city nomatter what,” Swindle said. “We’ll also be here no matter what.”

Some City Council members also agreed withSwindle’s views on the growing need for a new station.

Council member Bert Witherspoon, who is afirefighter in Denton, said the condition of the Krum station is well belowthat of other neighboring stations.

During early voting, which ends today, voters cancast their ballots at any polling site and locations are open today from 7 a.m.to 7 p.m. Election Day is Tuesday and polls close at 7 p.m.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 andvia Twitter at @Jdharden.


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