Shelley, Firth fire bond on ballot

SHELLEY — Local heroes—the 24 volunteers who make up the Shelley fire district—want your vote.
The volunteer firemen are asking voters in the Shelley-Firth Fire District to approve the $1.7 million bond so a new fire station can be built in Shelley and to renovate the existing Firth fire station. This bond issue is on the Primary Election ballot. The election is set for Tuesday, May 15.
The cost to property owners in the fire district depends on the tax value of the person's property.
If your home is worth $100,000, the rate for fire protection will increase $7 each year. This is a cost of 58 cents each month.
If your home is worth $200,000, the rate will increase $21.86 for a monthly increase of $1.82.
The installments for the bond will not extend over 30 years.
As the fire station and its equipment improves, it help to keep the cost of fire insurance down.
"We need a new fire station because we don't have room," said Shelley Fire Chief Mike Carter. "We park some of our equipment outside. Two trucks were kept in a potato cellar during the winter.
The buildings for the volunteer fire fighters and EMS volunteers are too small, he said. The training room and facilities are not adequate.
Plans for the new station include five bays that would house all equipment plus have some room to grow for the future.
The planned conference room would be available to the community, Carter said. The meeting room could seat 100 people.
"The reason we are doing this now is because the construction costs are low right now, he said. Material and labor is still a good buy.
Funds for this project are available through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development program.
Monies are made available to communities who meet certain income level requirements. Historically, the Shelley-Firth Fire District could not compete well for these funds because other areas have significantly lower income levels.
This year, millions of dollars in additional funding is available that allows communities like Shelley and Firth to compete for low interest rates usually only available to areas in distress.
In a typical year, Idaho will receive $3 million for the USDA Rural Development program. This year, Idaho received $13 million, allowing for lower interest rates for funds available to communities like Shelley and Firth. It is a great opportunity for those communities able to move quickly, said Julie Neff, Area Specialist, Community Programs, Rural Development, USDA.
The additional monies exist because the funds are also designed to assist in job creation. Construction falls under the term of an "eligible activity."
"Our chances of getting this low interest rate are better now than they were last year," said Shelley fire chief Carter. "There probably won't be this much money available next year.
"Now is the time to act," said Carter.