Take 2: City of Boise will try again for Boise fire facility upgrades

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - The City of Boise will take another stab at passing a public safety bond to help pay for renovations and improvement to several Boise fire facilities.

The bond didn't get the supermajority vote it needed to pass in the general election back in November, 2013, but the city hopes a different source of funding may help sway voters in November. City council will have to approve the bond proposal before it gets put on the ballot.

Last November, the city came within 400 votes of passing the proposed bond package. While 64 percent of voters approved it, that still wasn't enough.

"It was difficult to be that close and not get it through," Boise City Fire Chief Dennis Doan said.

So this year, the Boise Fire Department and the City of Boise will try again to get support from voters. This time though, voters won't have to pay for the bond. This $17 million proposal would pay for what the fire department calls 'long overdue' upgrades and renovations to several of its fire stations, many of which don't meet code.

"They all have similar problems," Doan said. "They don't have sprinkler systems, they aren't up to code in many different ways one of them has a seismic problem meaning it could fall over in an earthquake. We have a lot of work that needs to be done."

Chief Doan said the department also needs a new training facility to replace the one located on Shoreline Drive. The chief said it is one of their biggest priorities, because the one they're using right now is becoming useless.

"In fact, it's looking like it may be condemned and we may not even be able to use it at all," he said. "The only way we can do live fire training for our brand new recruits is through acquired structures and it's a very dangerous way to train our firefighters. We would rather have a controlled environment so our firefighters are well trained and the public is not at risk. But our firefighters are (at risk) and it's not fair to them that we risk their lives in training when there's a better and a safer way to do it."

The specifics of the proposed package aren't ironed out yet. However, Doan said it will likely be similar to the one the city tried to pass last year. However, there's one major difference.

"This is a no tax bond," Doan said. "The mayor and council are going to pay for the bond through the general fund this year, so it won't cost taxpayers anything."

The department hopes that just might be enough to sway your vote in November.

"I think that we should support our firefighters and if it's not going to cost us any extra in taxes, why not you know?" Boise resident Kara Kasper said.

"I don't see any downfalls to it," Boise resident Angela Archambeault said. "It's a win-win. "The fire department is there helping us every day and if we can do anything to help them and keep their houses up, keep them comfortable and give them what they need then I think that would be great."

The chief said the bond will be paid off over the next 15-20 years, but that the City of Boise will have the money available up front so that they can start working on these projects right away if the bond passes in November.