BANNOCK COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI) - Neighbors in north Bannock County will have the chance to vote on a proposed levy to fund the future of the North Bannock Fire District.
In the upcoming May election, North Bannock Fire will ask voters to approve an annual $500,000 levy to fund the volunteer fire department and build a second fire station in the Pocatello Creek Road neighborhood.
"It's very important that our voters support the levy increase so we can continue on with our fire department," said North Bannock Fire Commissioner Roy Allen.
For years, the North Bannock Fire District contracted with the City of Chubbuck for fire and EMS services. When that wasn't an option anymore, they had to create a new fire department.
In August 2019, 86 percent of voters approved a levy override of $500,000 to temporarily fund the creation of the fire district. The override levy was in addition to the regular, long-standing fire district levy, which is about $180,000 annually, according to Allen.
The $500,000 levy override is expiring in June.
"(In 2019), we reminded voters this levy is only going to be for two years, and eventually we will need to come back once we know how much it costs to run a fire department, we'll be asking for a reset of our main levy," Allen said.
If voters approve the upcoming levy request, the $500,000 override levy will expire and the original levy will be raised from $180,000 to $500,000 annually. That would mean property owners in the district will pay less than they have been for the past two years, but more than they had before the department was created.
"So we're going to give much more services, and another station, for less," Allen said.
Most of the money from the original levy was used to purchase the District's fire station on 444 E Chubbuck Road and hire a fire chief and a part-time training officer.
"A single location in the northern part of our district isn't enough," Allen said.
The fire district is a large u-shaped space, that reaches all the way from Ross Fork Road to Buckskin Road area. With only one central fire station, response time to homes in the Buckskin area is dangerously long, Allen said.
"The incident can spin out of control. Someone can lose their life just because of the time it takes us to get there," Allen said.
The district is considering building a second station near Park Road, which would provide quick access to both Pocatello Creek and Buckskin Roads.
The election will be held the third Tuesday in May and the levy would need a two-thirds majority to pass.