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Aurora Fire District seeks $5 million bond

A architect's rendering of the proposed central stationThe Aurora Rural Fire Protection District 63 is asking voters May 20 to approve a $5,885,000 bond measure to build a third, central fire station and training center, upgrade two existing stations and replace aging fire apparatus.

Measure 24-367 both Marion and Clackamas ballots would authorize the district to sell bonds for that amount and pay them off over a maximum 20 years.

Supporters estimate repaying the bonds would cost taxpayers 49.8 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Using those figures, the owner of a property assessed at $150,000 would pay about $6.13 a month or $74.70 a year.

The Aurora fire district provides firefighting, emergency medical, and rescue and HazMat services to about 6,000 residents in a 64-square mile area, including the cities of Aurora and Donald, as well as unincorporated portions of Marion and Clackamas counties.

It also protects eight miles of Interstate 5, six miles of Highway 99E and the Aurora State Airport. Its 4.5-fulltime firefighters and 30 volunteers respond to more than 600 emergency incidents a year.

While a central station has been planned for years, fire district officials pared down those plans to go before the voters, said Greg Leo, as treasurer of the Yes on 24-367 committee.

“We scaled down to try keep below 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value,” he said. “We think that’s a reasonable and manageable cost for most tax payers.”

Scaling down the size of a new station was important, he said. “We’re only asking voters to pay for what we need right now,” he said. Its design will allow it to expand as needed in the future.

The district wants to build the new station on a 10-acre site it owns off Ehlen Road, between Aurora and Donald, in the very heart of the district it serves. The new, three-bay station will include space for the career firefighters who would have a central location to reduce response times to more of the area.

Its training center will help both career and volunteer firefighters comply with national standards by giving them a central location for live fire and other emergency response training.

It takes 322 hours of training for a volunteer to become a firefighter-EMT basic and another 72 hours annually to keep their certification.

Both existing Aurora and Donald stations will stay open, Leo said. “We feel we’ve made a significant commitment to the people of Donald and Aurora.”

They will provide the fire service for those towns, and the bond measure will provide new fire engines for each station, he said.

The bond money would help make operation and safety improvements, including seismic upgrades, at the existing stations in Donald and Aurora. Both were built of unreinforced cinder blocks more than 60 years ago and would be at risk in an earthquake.

The bond money also buy a fire engine and small water tanker for the new station, replace two other fire engines more than 25 years old and a new brush firefighting vehicle.



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