SPRING VALLEY — When Spring Valley Fire Department Chief Todd Bogatitus looks at the old fire engine in his garage, he just shakes his head.
The 1964 American LaFrance has protected residents for many years, but there are no seat belts, no power steering, and the driver’s side window is cracked and repaired with duct tape.
“And sometimes it just doesn’t start,” Bogatitus said.
The fire department is asking Spring Valley voters to approve a referendum on April 9 that would allow the department to replace the engine.
Bogatitus said for the last 30 years or so, the department has brought a referendum to the public about every 10 years.
“We go for a referendum to replace one of our most expensive pieces of apparatus,” he said. “This is the only way we’re able to replace an engine due to our very small budget that we receive from tax dollars.”
Bogatitus said the old engine is pretty much obsolete, and replacement parts are becoming very hard to find.
It’s also lived out more than twice the length of its recommended lifespan. Bogatitus said the National Fire Protection Association recommends engines should be replaced every 20 years.
“Obviously that’s pretty much impossible to do in today’s economy,” he said. “Once again, government regulations tell you to do this, do that and there’s no funding for it.”
Bogatitus said approving the referendum is a good deal for taxpayers.
First, it will not cost taxpayers any additional money. If the referendum is approved, the bonds will be structured around the remaining debt service on the Series 2004 Bonds on the department’s aerial truck to ensure the current bond and interest tax rate will not increase for taxpayers. For a home valued at $100,000, owners will continue to pay about $2.78 per month for the next 12 years.
In addition to not costing voters any more money, it could also save them a few dollars.
Bogatitus said the city currently has an Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating of 5, which he said is pretty good. That rating is used to determine insurance premiums, and if the rating dropped one point, it would increase a homeowner’s insurance on a $100,000 home by about $28 per year.
Also, Bogatitus said businesses and industries look at a city’s ISO rating when making decisions as to where to locate.
“It has a definite impact on any future development in the city of Spring Valley,” he said.
Bogatitus said that for him — not as a fire chief but as a Spring Valley property owner — the decision to approve the referendum is a no-brainer.
“If somebody needs the fire department, do they really want them to respond in a 49-year-old vehicle?” he said. “This is not a tax increase, and this is something that the city and the citizens of Spring Valley need to approve to — Like I always say, help us help you.”
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