Thanks to Martha Ballard for questioning the $15M firehouse!
The inflated cost derives from the many expensive green energy features Council demanded. My favorite is electrical wiring for charging future electric firetrucks. Is this realistic?
In 2022, LA Fire Dept purchased the first-ever US electric firetruck. Custom-built in Austria, it might have advantages in milder climates. But Salida? The battery life in temperate, flat terrain is only two hours! Also costs more, has shorter service life. Great deal!
What about safety? Recent hurricane coverage shows swamped lithium battery vehicles spontaneously igniting as they dry out. Salt from seawater short circuits layers inside the battery, causing catastrophic failure. We may not have seawater, but Salida has road salt. We are not the place to test experimental emergency equipment! We need robust equipment for lifesaving procedures performed under difficult conditions-including blizzards/power outages!
Do you want to risk our new $15M building, and more importantly our sleeping first responders, with experimental technology that could spontaneously erupt into a fireball? Me neither. And who fights a firehouse fire after the equipment burns?
Luckily, TABOR dictates Council must get a vote of the people to authorize multi-year capital expenditures. How would an informed electorate vote? We may never know. Council is invoking a shadowy process called Certificates of Participation(COP). The issuer in effect buys the firehouse, and we pay rent on it until taking ownership in 2051. This process avoids voter input. It might be legal, but it sure does stink.
I support a new firehouse. Our Fire Dept personnel are topnotch, but their current facility is antiquated.
If the Council wanted an $8M facility meeting our foreseeable needs, using COP might be acceptable. Though questions about costs vs issuing a bond should be addressed.
If Council wants to pitch voters a $15M project loaded with their fondest wishes, let voters decide.
But I cannot countenance an ultra-expensive and hyper-risky plan that dodges voter input using a seedy technicality dreamed up by attorneys and corporate hacks. Should we sue? Good luck fighting taxpayer-funded lawyers. Even worse, the same Attorneys that probably hatched this plot get paid again to defend their own actions. The Salida City Attorney should be a salaried employee, not a private contractor paid $225/hour to defend their own dubious actions.
Demand City Council accept voter input. Our first responders safeguard us. Please return the favor.
Vince Phillips, Salida