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The Linn County Clerk's Office will soon begin mailing out ballots for the Nov. 5 general election.

Lebanon voters will decide the fate of a replacement bond measure proposed by the Lebanon Fire District. Fire Chief Gordon Sletmoe participated in a question and answer session with the Lebanon Express about the measure.

What is the purpose of this bond measure?

"The purpose of the bond request is to raise $16 million for a replacement main fire station and some apparatus,' Sletmoe said.

The Lebanon Fire District's primary home is Station 31 on Oak Street.

Why is it necessary to seek this bond replacement now?

"Due to its age, the current fire station does not meet earthquake standards or current fire code. The current fire station also does not have adequate exhaust removal equipment in the apparatus bay, and does not have enough size for the number of people who work inside the station," Sletmore said.

He added that the station has been remodeled at least 10 times, and that it's no longer cost-effective to continue remodeling it. 

"Because of the extensive remodels, some of the living areas where firefighters spend a sizable amount of their time are at the furthest point from the apparatus bay, which hampers our rapid response times," Sletmoe said.

As for the needed apparatus, Sletmoe said the district has targeted five vehicles which are past their end of life but have been kept in service due to need.

What apparatus will be purchased if the bond is approved?

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Three fire engines and two wildlland firefighting apparatus, commonly called brush trucks.

If approved, what is the cost for the average taxpayer?

"The average cost is estimated at 34 cents per $1,000 (in assessed value), which is $76.50 per year for a home valued at $225,000," Sletmoe said.

Is this an increase from the existing bond?

"We currently have a bond that was passed in 2006, and that bond provided for two smaller fire stations and three apparatus. That's at 20 cents per $1,000 (in assessed value)," Sletmoe said. "This bond would take its place and the increase is 14 cents per $1,000 or $31.50 per year, which is the increase from what they're paying right now."

What is the status of the existing bond?

"The district will pay off the existing bond one year early out of existing funds so the taxpayers won't be asked to pay the last year of the existing bond. This bond, if approved, would take over where the other one left off," Sletmoe said.

The new bond rate would be applied on the property tax bills residents receive in the fall of 2020.

If approved, what is the time frame for construction of a new station?

"We would use calendar year 2020 to do all of the preliminary plans, blueprints, design, permitting, soil studies and so forth," Sletmoe said. "The plan would be to begin construction early in 2021, with the goal of having the new station up and running and in service in the fall of 2021. The construction phase is expected to take nine to 12 months."

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