That’s according to a five-year plan three members of the Canton City Council discussed during a planning session Wednesday morning at City Hall.
Council members John Beresford, Bill Bryan and Bob Rush were joined by City Manager Scott Wood, Fire Chief Dean Floyd and Chief Financial Officer Nathan Ingram to mull the cost and timeline of building at least two additional fire stations in the city limits.
The meeting was conducted on the heels of the City Council overriding Mayor Gene Hobgood’s veto of a fire district ordinance last week.
If a 1.25 millage rate is set for the fire district, the city estimates it will generate about $930,000 on an annual basis, Bryan said.
If the rate is set before Oct. 1, the city could begin collecting the revenue this year and will have enough money to build its long awaited fire station in Laurel Canyon.
“At this point, we have to go with what the city attorney (Bobby Dyer) is telling us,” Bryan said about the timeline.
The fire station is estimated to cost around $750,000 and the city already has the assets it could use to house at the new station.
If that annual collection amount holds true to prediction, the city could use the remaining funds from the 2012 collections to add to the construction cost for the proposed fire station along Commerce Boulevard.
That station is also believed to cost around $750,000, Wood said.
The city hopes to have enough revenue carried over from 2012 to add to projected 2013 collections to fund the station on Commerce.
However, Wood said the city will also need to determine if it wants to keep Station 16 in downtown Canton open once the station on Commerce Boulevard opens.
If the city decides to leave it open, the city would then have to tangle with possibly hiring more staff to house Commerce.
But, if the downtown station is shuttered, the city can transfer firefighters there while allowing the downtown station to serve as administrative headquarters.
If it goes that route, Floyd said the city can build the Commerce Boulevard station and leave room for expansion.
Floyd added that with the Laurel Canyon station, he’d ideally like to hire at least nine firefighters for the station.
“There is no doubt that will give us way beyond what we need for a class 4,” he said, referring to the city increasing its Insurance Office Rating from 5 to 4.
The ISO system is used to rate how well fire departments serve their area.
The scale runs from one to 10, with one being the best fire service. The ratings are used to calculate homeowners’ insurance costs.
Wood said the city already has land set aside in Laurel Canyon for the fire station.
He noted an agreement is in place with Northside Hospital that would transfer roughly three acres to the city before the first land disturbance permit is issued for the development.
Beresford, who scheduled the meeting, reiterated that the city had not been able to start working on a plan due to the discussion enhancing fire services centering around whether city would consolidate services with Cherokee County, a criticism those opposed to the district hurled at the council.
“It is hard to establish a plan until you can identify the product and/or service you wish to develop,” he said.