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Letter: District 5 making financial progress but needs voter levy support

District 5 making

financial progress but needs voter levy support

Dear Editor;

You might be asking, “What has the district been doing with all their money?” To answer that, consider the district’s financial history. Late in 2004, the district approached Mark Reed Hospital to buy the ambulance service that provided care for residents of Elma, McCleary, District 12 and District 5. The district took control of the ambulance Jan. 1, 2005.

From January 2005 thru October 2007, ambulance services caused the district to go into debt by more than $750,000. In 2008, the district started borrowing money from the county to enable it to continue operating. By April 2009, the district’s debt to the county equaled roughly $150,000. This debt was paid off in May 2009. Until 2008, taxpayers of District 5 were solely responsible for providing funds that allowed the ambulance service to operate. Starting in 2008, Elma, McCleary, and Fire District 12 began contributing funds for the services. Their contributions increased each year. Unfortunately, there are still significant outstanding debts being paid off.

Currently, the district has debts to Sterling, Vision and Grand Banks.

The debt to Vision is for a Kenworth pumper, resulting in monthly payments of $1,692.09, which will be paid off Jan. 24, 2019. The debt to Grand Banks was for a Sutphen pumper with a monthly payment of $2,094.61, being paid off June 30, 2016. The monthly payment to Sterling is $4,300. The balance of this loan is due in May 2013. At that time, the district will need to make a payment of roughly $202,000.

Much of the district’s equipment is older and has high mileage. If the levy fails, there may not be adequate funds to repair things such as the water tenders should they have maintenance problems. This could affect your fire insurance ratings, changing the rating from 8 to 9. This means your property insurance premiums would increase. To get an example of how big an impact that might have, I asked my agent from Farmer’s Insurance what the increase might be should this scenario happen. He said my premium would increase 52 percent ($512). I suggest you contact your provider to find out what your increase would be should this happen.

As can be seen, the district has been improving its financial status, but it still needs taxpayers’ help. The 35 cents per $1,000 gained by passing this levy will enable the district to maintain the current level of service.

Gerald A. Bailey

Fire District 5 Commissioner