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.