Less than two months before 5 simultaneous area referendums are held on expanding the local fire and EMS station, the Cambridge Community Fire and EMS Commission has released what it says are the final taxpayer impact figures.
In a letter to the Cambridge News, printed on this week’s Opinion Page, Fire Chief Terry Johnson said that if approved, the $6.5 million project will increase property taxes in the village of Cambridge by $61 per $100,000 of assessed property value, for 20 years. For the owner of a $250,000 home in Cambridge, that would amount to a tax increase of about $152.
The letter said that if their April 6 referendums pass, the increase per $100,000 of assessed property value would be $60 in the town of Christiana, or $150 for the owner of a $250,000 home. The increase would be $4 in the town of Lake Mills, or $10 for the owner of a $250,000 home; $66 in the village of Rockdale, or $165 for the owner of a $250,000 home; and $50 in the town of Oakland, or $125 for the owner of a $250,000 home. All of the impacts would be felt for 20 years.
Johnson said the new figures were computed by financial consultant Robert W. Baird & Co., for the Fire and EMS Commission, based on 2020 equalized values.
Cambridge figureThe village of Cambridge has put out a slightly different figure on the impact on village property owners. Deputy Village Administrator Barbara Goeckner said financial consultant Ehlers, Inc. has calculated that if Cambridge’s referendum passes, the tax increase for village property owners would be $58.75 per $100,000 of assessed value, or about $147 for the owner of a $250,000 home.
Second question in CambridgeThe village of Cambridge also has a second related question on the April 6 ballot. It seeks to annually exceed the village’s state revenue cap by $95,000, in perpetuity, to fund fire and EMS costs and other village costs. Goeckner said Ehlers, Inc., estimates that the impact of this question will be $58.77 per $100,000 of assessed property value, or about $147 for the owner of a $250,000 home.
Based on Ehlers’ calculation, if both referendum questions pass in Cambridge, the result will be a tax increase in the village of $117.52 per $100,000 of assessed value, or about $294 for the owner of a $250,000 home.
Online survey In the letter, Johnson also said the commission has created an online survey for community members, on the proposed project.
The survey can be taken at: http://bit.ly/CambridgeEMS. A link is also on the fire and EMS Facebook pages and websites. Johnson said it’s hoped that local residents will complete the survey, which also contains valuable information and clarifications on the 5 referendums.
Some of the referendums are advisory and some are binding, based on decisions by the individual boards of the 5 municipalities.
It is not entirely clear what happens to the project if one or more of the referendums fails.
The existing station on West Main Street in Cambridge, completed in the 1980s, would roughly triple in size if the $6.5 million project goes forward.
The expanded space would include eight dorm rooms with individual bathrooms, a series of new offices, a new apparatus bay and new training, workout and dayroom spaces. And it would be designed to accommodate the potential future addition of full-time EMTs and firefighters.
The EMS department currently has six full-time paramedics who stay, when on duty and not on a call, at an apartment across the street from the station. The fire department remains all-volunteer with no immediate plans to add full-time staff.