SWEET HOME — After more than a quarter-century, the Sweet Home Fire & Ambulance District will soon own its fire hall at 1099 Long Street and Foster substation at 1390 47th Ave., the City Council agreed Tuesday evening.
The community has supported a fire department since 1938.
Sweet Home built the new fire hall in 1994. In 2000, in an effort to create a stable funding resource, the city created a fire district, according to Assistant Fire Chief Doug Emmert.
The area already was served by an ambulance district and the two merged, expanding the fire district from 63 square miles to 159 square miles. The ambulance district serves residents in 1,000 square miles.
In addition to its main fire hall and Foster substation, the district has substations in Cascadia and Crawfordsville.
The city of Sweet Home has leased the fire hall and Foster substation to the fire and ambulance district for $100 per year.
Fire Chief David Barringer told the council it would be much simpler if the property was actually owned by the district, which he noted serves the same taxpayers both in and out of the city limits.
“In 1993, we had 1,000 calls per month; now we have 2,800,” Barringer said. “We need to do some major seismic upgrades, and we need to expand. It would be much easier to do these things if we actually owned the building.”
The district serves more than 16,000 residents with 11 full-time staff and 55 volunteers.
The district is governed by a board of directors, including Dawn Mitchell, president; Tim Geil, vice president; and Elmer Reimer, Larry Johnson and Don Hopkins.
City Manager Ray Towry concurred with the request, as did council members.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a contract for $77,630 with Keller Associates to review the wastewater treatment plant improvement project. The city had budgeted $80,000.
• Directed Finance Director Brandon Neish to compile information necessary to pursue refinancing city debt at a lower interest rate. Neish told the council current interest rates could lower the city’s long-term debt payments by $1.5 million. Currently the city is paying from 2% to 3.4% on its existing bonds, and Neish believes the city could reduce that to about 1.7%.
Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.