Beatrice Residents to Consider Sales Tax For Fire Station

BEATRICE – Beatrice voters will have the chance to consider a half-cent local sales tax increase to fund a new Beatrice Fire and Rescue headquarters, this November.

The city council voted 7-0 Monday night, to place the tax question before voters in the general election.  Six votes, or a super-majority of the council, were required to put the issue up for a vote.  One member of the eight-member body was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

The current trend shows the city’s 1.5 cent sales tax raises revenue of over $3 million annually, meaning a half cent could raise an additional $1 million.

Though he voted with the majority, Councilman Ted Fairbanks was skeptical of putting the sales tax to a vote, without knowing key parts of the plan.

:30                  “no way around that”

City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer says if approved, the additional half-cent local sales tax would be in effect for ten years, or until bonds for the fire station are paid off, whichever is longer.  It would also mean persons who don’t live in Beatrice would help fund the project.

Councilman Bob Morgan says the ballot proposal gives the public the chance to determine a direction.

:16                  “all about”

The current fire department, located in the west lower level of the Municipal Auditorium, has cramped space where fire and rescue vehicles must be stacked, depending on which vehicles are used most often.

Councilman Rich Kerr would like to see the public have a more direct role in determining the scope of the project.

:21                  “how we do it”

City and Fire officials have been working through a consulting firm on a concept for a 33,000 square foot station, but have not yet picked a location from about eight sites under consideration.

The Mayor and City Administrator say the public can have input into the process through their council member. Fire Chief Brian Daake says there’s also discussion about more opportunities for public feedback.

:26                  “the community”

The council acted Monday night to place the sales tax issue on the ballot, in advance of a September 4th deadline of the Gage County Election Commissioner’s Office, for issues to make the ballot.

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