Aiming to replace decades-old equipment and fire trucks, the Hawk Point Fire Protection District has placed an item on the June 2 Municipal Election ballot proposing a tax increase called Proposition CS, or Community Safety.
“The 14-cent tax increase that we’re asking for…is to start replacing the trucks that are anywhere between 34 and 40 years old,” Fire Chief Bob Gauldin said. “These are front-line pumpers, tankers.”
Municipal elections were originally scheduled for April 7, however Governor Mike Parson recently signed an executive order delaying them until June, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Proposition CS would levy an additional tax of no more than 14 cents per $100 assessed valuation, in order to provide funds to support the FPD.
“The district intends to use the proceeds for the purpose of providing quality services to the community by updating equipment, purchasing fire trucks and other apparatus, and ensuring access to appropriate training for its staff,” the ballot measure reads.
The Hawk Point FPD became an official fire district in 2001, and Gauldin said there has not been a tax increase in the district in the past 19 years.
“In 2001 the voters voted in a 24-cent assessed evaluation tax,” Gauldin said. “And they [the FPD] have been living on that for the last 19 years.”
The FPD covers approximately 140 square miles from its two engine houses with a volunteer force of firefighters and EMTs.
“We run over 200 calls a year, and [are] 100 percent volunteer,” Gauldin said.
It operates two pumper fire trucks, two tanker trucks and three brush units.
Gauldin said the plan, if Proposition CS is approved, would be to replace one truck fairly quickly, then roll into a 20-year plan where another truck would be replaced every five years.
“Everything we do is around life safety, and property,” Gauldin said. “Life safety first, property safety second, and we want to be able to make it there in a timely fashion and do what we have to do.”
The district also wants to replace its sets of hydraulic shears, a rescue tool known colloquially as the “Jaws of Life,” used to safely pull people from car wrecks.
Their newest set of shears is at least 20 years old, Gauldin said.
“We cover about eight miles of Highway 47, and we have a lot of big truck traffic, a lot of just road traffic in general,” Gauldin said.
If the proposition passes, one set of shears will be replaced along with the first truck, and another set would be purchased further down the line when more money becomes available.
Around 1,840 registered voters are in the FPD’s coverage area, which includes Truxton, New Truxton, Hawk Point, and stretches all the way up to Warrenton.
The FPD was planning to hold a set of open houses to educate voters on Proposition CS, however the coronavirus situation and the delay of the Municipal Election have caused those events to be postponed.