By Bonnie Seymour
News Star Reporter
Elmore City Fire Chief Eddie Stewart has been dreaming of a new fire station for the town he loves for some time now, but one roadblock has been standing in his way; the land to build it on.
At the regular meeting of the Elmore City Council held Tuesday, July 7, the Council decided that the City would purchase the land for the new station that would be built with county tax dollars.
“This is the only step I can’t cover in the path to a new fire station,” Stewart explained to the Council before they voted “yes” on the matter.
Stewart explained that according to the district attorney, due to situation that occurred in Cleveland County, county tax dollars could not be used to purchase land, but could be used to build the station its self.
“The land has to be owned, free and clear,” said Stewart.
The Council was also informed that the new fire truck that would soon be making its way to Elmore City may very well not fit in the current fire station.
The land that Stewart and the Council are hoping to purchase for the new digs will cost $62,500, which the City does have on hand according to City Clerk Pam Helvey.
“The spot is ideal and has highway access. It’s a lot of money but the town needs it,” said Councilman Derrick Tadlock.
“People love to see a big, nice fire station when they are rolling into town,” added Councilman Tim Clark.
Randal McFadden simply said, “Go for it.”
The purchase of the land is still up in the air as there are three owners of the property and all owners must be on board with the sale.
At the Public Water Works meeting, J.R. McCaskill informed the Council that the USDA is ready to start searching for grant/loan packages for the future replacement of the City’s long ailing water lines and needed the Council to come up with a loose estimate of what they would like to spend on the future project.
“This is not set in stone. They just need an idea so they know what to look for,” said McCaskill.
The Council decided, under advisement of McCaskill, who has been working as a grant consultant for the City, that a $2 million loan/grant combination would be best, getting the job done all in one go, which would make the monthly payment for the City around $3,800 a month.
As for the monthly payment the City will have to make, the Council is already tossing around ideas as to how they can cover the cost without having to harm the City’s finances, like the possibility of raising water rates or a tax increase.
“People will scream and holler, but they complain about the taste of the water and dirt being in the water. They are just going to have to bite the bullet,” said Councilman Jim Tadlock.
McCaskill is a fan of the sales tax idea, as it will go to a vote of the people and will also end up not being paid exclusively by Elmore City residents.
“Anyone who spends money in the town would be contributing,” explained McCaskill.
The line project won’t begin in the near future, as it will take the USDA anywhere from 18 – 36 months to find the funding.