Ketchum voters to decide on fire station in November

KETCHUM, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) It's the homestretch for Ketchum city officials in their outreach efforts to inform voters of the upcoming choices they face this November.

Roughly 66% or 1,628 of Ketchum's 2,442 voters are needed to vote in favor for the bond to pass. (KMVT/KSVT)

While residents, will have the opportunity to vote on two open City Council seats, they will also have the opportunity to vote up or down a $11.5 million bond that would bring a new fire station to the mountain town, at the cost of increasing property taxes for residents. Ketchum City officials have been hosting a series of open houses aimed at informing residents about the specifics of the proposal they'll face this November, the last of those seminars took place Tuesday at Ketchum City Hall.

Residents in the mountain town faced a similar proposal on the ballot in 2016, a $23 million bond that would've allocated funding for a new fire and police station, as well as city hall. However, voters overwhelmingly rejected that proposal in 2016 with 2/3 voting against the bond. The bond voters will face this year is asking for less money, $11.5 million with a total cost of $16.9 million including interest and principal.

"The cost to the taxpayer is $20.55 per year, per $100,000 dollars of assessed property value," Ketchum City Mayor Neil Bradshaw said.

The cost per year for $400,000 in property value is $82, for $700,000 in property value the cost is $144 per year, and for $1 million in property value the cost is $205 annually.

If voters approve that measure, construction on the new fire station will take place in May 2020 with a scheduled completion date in the summer of 2021. The location for the proposed site is north of the Wood River Community YMCA and has direct access to Highway 75, Saddle Road and Warm Springs. The location was chosen by a citizen committee out of 22 potential sites. If voters approve construction on the new 14,530-square-foot facility, it is expected to remedy safety and size problems with the current 6,080-square-foot fire station. The Ketchum Fire Department currently shares the building with City Hall and the Ketchum Police Department. The problems with the current fire station have been noted over the years and are present from top to bottom of the current facility.

"Well, we had a bit of roof lake at this point and the ceiling in the bay actually fell down on top of the ambulances," said Interim Fire Chief for the Ketchum Fire Department Tom Ancona said. "Also our sleeping quarters also don't meet fire code."

Space is also an issue for the Ketchum Fire Department as they work in everything from medical emergencies to search and rescue events.

"We're a full EMS, paramedic agency, as well as full rescue agency," Ancona said.

The service and safety Ketchum Fire provides the city will ultimately be left up to voters, as the current conditions he said may have reached the point of no return.

"We're not sure we may actually end up in a temporary quarters somewhere so the future will tell the story."

For the bond to pass, roughly 66% or 1,628 of 2,442, of Ketchum voters will have to vote in favor of the bond. While election day is Nov. 5, early voting has already begun. To find out more information about when and where you can vote, and the requirements, visit here.

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