Voters approve sales tax for fire station
Beatrice voters approved a sales tax issue Tuesday that will generate funds to build a new fire station.
Unofficial results Tuesday night showed a total of 2,132 votes in favor of the sales tax issue to 1,860 voting in opposition.
Beatrice Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Daake was overwhelmed to hear the news and said he’s excited for the department to have a facility that meets its needs.
He attributed the issue passing to ongoing efforts from firefighters and city officials to educate the public about the need for a new station.
“I know a lot of the department members off duty did a lot of work to get the information out there and then also our friends and family in the community helped too,” he said. “It’s just really impressive. When you work 24 hour shifts you live one-third there and to give them a good place to live will help with retention and recruitment just by having an actual fire station instead of the auditorium.”
The tax will raise funds for a new station that firefighters and city officials say has been needed for several years.
The additional half-cent sales tax will generate around $1 million annually and be removed once the station is paid off, or in 10 years.
The current city sales tax is 1.5 percent, and will be raised to 2 percent, bringing the total sales tax to 7.5 percent.
A current lack of space has been the driving factor in pursuing a new station that would move Beatrice Fire and Rescue, as well as some Beatrice Rural Fire trucks housed at the station, out of the city auditorium and into a brand new facility.
The city auditorium has been used as a fire station since 1965, when the department moved to the location as a temporary means.
At the time, there were five trucks in the garage area compared to 14 today.
A location for the new fire station has not been made public and officials have said there are four potential sites being considered.
Mayor Stan Wirth said the next step in the process will be to determine where the station will be built.
“We’ll go back to JEO Group, our consultants, who will further identify some of the locations of where this fire station could be and start negotiations with those property owners to determine what kind of price we’re going to have to pay,” he said. “Then once that is decided we’ll move forward with the development of that real estate that’s picked out and begin the bidding process, or at least engineering drawings and estimates of what it will cost.”
The current fire station is around 6,000 square feet and the proposed new facility would be around 14,000 square feet and cost around $9 million, including purchasing property.