Paola seeks renewal of quarter-cent sales tax for fire department

By Brian McCauley
Miami County Republic – April 20, 2017

Ten years ago, Paola residents supported their community’s volunteer fire department by approving a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the construction of a new station and pay for necessary equipment.

Now, a decade later, Paola city officials and fire department representatives hope they can get that same support to renew the quarter-cent sales tax for operation of the fire department.

Paola City Council members, during their April 11 meeting, approved an ordinance that calls for a public vote to renew the sales tax, which expires in September.

City Clerk Dan Droste said the special walk-in election will need to be scheduled for June 20 in order to certify the results and get them sent to the state by the July 1 deadline.

Paola City Manager Jay Wieland said the sales tax is crucial for the fire department’s operation. Without it, he said the city may have had to increase its mill levy up to four mills to pay for a recent fire truck purchase.

“That’s pretty substantial,” Wieland said.

Paola Fire Chief Andy Martin also spoke during the meeting about the importance of the tax and the need to upgrade aging equipment. He said several of the department’s air packs are in the 20-year age frame.

Martin also pointed out that Paola is one of the few cities of its size in the state that still uses a volunteer fire department, which saves the city and its taxpayers a substantial amount of money. He said there currently are 27 firefighters on the department’s roster.

Wieland said he is hopeful that voters will continue to support the department, especially since the renewal would not increase the existing sales tax rate.

“We’re very hopeful that they realize that we need to stay at this level, which involves a lot of upkeep on the building and maintenance of equipment,” Wieland said. “This is not a new tax. It’s a continuation of what they said they wanted.”

The Paola Fire Station formerly was a school building at 202 E. Wea St. It includes the firehouse gym, which city officials said may need some improvements moving forward, particularly on the roof.

 

Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
http://www.ksffa.com
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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