News Column

Wentzville fire district puts property tax hike, bond issue on Aug. 5 ballot

May 24, 2014

By Mark Schlinkmann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch



May 24--WENTZVILLE -- The Wentzville Fire Protection District board wants voters to approve a $30-million bond issue and a property tax increase at the Aug. 5 primary.

The extra revenue would be used to build two new firehouses, add 24 firefighters to staff them, buy new equipment and improve training.

Assistant Chief John Schneider said the two propositions are needed to help the district deal with expected continued residential and commercial growth in the Wentzville area.

For example, he said, there are plans for 14 new subdivisions in the district's 88 square miles.

"We have some pockets of our district that just have unacceptable response times," Schneider said.

He said the tax hike -- 25 cents per $100 assessed valuation -- would be in addition to the district's current 50-cent tax levy. That measure, called Proposition L, would require simple majority approval and cover items such as the personnel and training upgrades.

The bond issue, Proposition F, requires four-sevenths majority approval and would trigger an additional property tax increase of 2 to 3 cents per $100 assessed valuation, he said.

The district's pitch to voters follows a year of turmoil, which included the purge of the former chief and three other senior officers.

The leadership shift followed a financial audit that said the district could be out of money by the end of this year if changes weren't made.

Schneider said the two new fire stations financed by the bond issue would be in the district's north end near Flint Hill and south end near Highways Z and N but specific sites have yet to be chosen.

They would be in addition to the district's three current houses, two of which would eventually be replaced. The bond issue also would pay for three new pumper trucks, two new ladder trucks and other equipment.

Plans also call for the new firefighters to be hired to be cross-trained as paramedics. The goal, Schneider said, is to outfit all the district's fire trucks with advanced life support equipment.

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(c)2014 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


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