‘Fire bond’ spurs town hall meeting Monday
by Joshua Sharpe
March 01, 2013 12:00 AM | 2487 views | 7 7 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Gene Hobgood talks during a meeting.  Three days after the much-discussed “fire bond” was struck down by Canton voters in a more than 2-to-1 defeat, the debate rages on, with community leaders regrouping to find another way to remedy the city’s need for additional fire stations. <br>Staff/file
Mayor Gene Hobgood talks during a meeting. Three days after the much-discussed “fire bond” was struck down by Canton voters in a more than 2-to-1 defeat, the debate rages on, with community leaders regrouping to find another way to remedy the city’s need for additional fire stations.
CANTON — A proposed $6 million general obligation bond that would allocate monies to build several new fire stations in Canton has begun to stir up heated discussions, with opposition saying it will be too costly for taxpayers and proponents decreeing it’s the best option possible.

The “fire bond,” as it is being called, goes to a public vote March 19. And both sides are urging the community to have all the facts and make an informed decision in the voting booth.

They’ve even taken to their personal Facebook pages to air their concerns.

A town hall meeting has been called for 5 p.m. Monday for city officials to field citizen questions on the proposal, which would build three new fire departments in fast growing areas of the city, said City Councilman Hooky Huffman.

The meeting will be at Laurel Canyon Golf Club in the Laurel Canyon area, which would be the location of the first of the new fire stations. The following two would be in The Bluffs area and near Canton Marketplace.

Huffman said out of the three new locations, Laurel Canyon is in the most dire need of a new fire station, because its nestled-in location in the northeast corner of the city makes it subject to longer response times from the existing fire stations in downtown and south Canton.

“It’s simply an issue of safety,” he said. “But it could also lower homeowners’ insurance rates, since fire department response time is something insurers look at.”

Mayor Gene Hobgood and Huffman’s fellow Councilman, Glen Cummins, agree that Laurel Canyon is in need of a fire station but said that there could be a cheaper way to accomplish the task.

The proposed bond would increase the city of Canton’s overall millage rate from 6.8 (which includes 2.9 mills for fire safety) to 10.6 over the next four to five years. This will in effect raise property taxes $28 a year for ever $100,000 in market value a home has, said Hobgood.

Hobgood said this is only the immediate part of increases the bond would cause, as the millage rate will increase as each fire station is built, staffed and maintained.

“As we get past the building stage that $28 will increase and eventually be around $148 per year for a $100,000 home,” Hobgood said.

Huffman acknowledges the cost to the taxpayers is high, but says the bond, which would expire in 20 years, are seemingly the cheapest way to accomplish the goal of protecting the homes of Canton residents.

“Can they come up with a cheaper option?” Huffman said, referencing the bond’s opponents.

Since early voting on the fire bond began Tuesday only 80 voters have taken the opportunity to cast their ballot. There are 12,956 registered voters in Canton.

For more information on the fire bond or voting in the March 19 referendum, visit www.canton-georgia.com.
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Steve Lathem
March 02, 2013
I don't know what the best solution to our problem issues in Canton are. As a life long resident I have seen many community leaders come and go. It seems to me that ever sense these outsiders were elected to the city council its been like a bunch of kindergardners on a playground quarreling. Grow up guys and check the testosterone at the door!
glen cummins
March 01, 2013
There are 3 cheaper options and I an willing to discuss them with anyone with an open mind.
March 01, 2013
I hope that the citizens will turn out and listen to both sides.I have done my homework with what I can find out to this point. I believe that the tax increase will be much higher than is being presented. As the proponents say it will be a small increase - but then it goes up each year for 5 years and will likely cost nearly $500 a year for the homeowners in Great Sky and Laurel C. The response time difference is not significant and there are other options such as city/county merger of services that appear more economical and more attractive overall.
March 01, 2013
Obviously the council has not read the Georgia Service Delivery Act which requires cities and counties to work at consolidating services to reduce cost and duplication of services. As is, ALL LOCAL GOVERNMENT agencies should be required and be enforced to follow this statue. Disengage city fire departments, and develop a long term proactive strategy of all services to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Glen Cummins
March 01, 2013
There are three other options that could be considered for providing Fire Services and all three are more cost effective that the currently proposed solution.
March 01, 2013
Now the meeting is open to everyone! Everyone should attend.
March 01, 2013
The cheaper option is combining with the county fire department. This seem like an obvious smart economical choice but it would take away some of the power from the city government. And we all now that they won't let something like that happen.
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