Mayor Chris Beutler is proposing a $29.5 million bond issue to fund modernization of the City's 911 radio system and to build two new replacement fire stations. If the City Council approves, the bond issue would be on the November 4 general election ballot. A public hearing on the resolution is set for the August 25 City Council meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
"These projects respond to our number one priority — public safety — in a cost-effective manner," Beutler said. "They will give our police officers and firefighters the tools and facilities needed to continue to provide quality service to the citizens of Lincoln." The proposed bond issue would add an estimated $21.41 a year to the property tax bill on a property valued at $150,000, beginning in the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The bond issue would provide $20.5 million for a new radio system. The system was last replaced beginning in 1987, and portions are now more than 25 years old. Many components no longer receive vendor support, and many are no longer available. In addition to the Lincoln Police Department, Lincoln Fire and Rescue and the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office, the radio system serves the City Public Works and Utilities Department, the UNL Police Department, Lincoln Public Schools and other agencies.
The two new stations would replace two existing stations that are in need of extensive rehabilitation: Station 12, 84th and South streets, and Station 10, 1440 Adams Street. The relocations would improve response times without additional staff.
"In the 18 years since a new fire station was built in Lincoln, the City has grown by about 57,000 people and more than 20 square miles," Beutler said. "With these two new stations, we will be able to improve our response times to growing areas in both north and south Lincoln — areas that are currently beyond four minutes travel time from any fire station."
Public Safety Director Tom Casady said a fire station optimization study identified the best locations for the new stations. One would be in north-central Lincoln, the area Casady said experiences the most life-threatening emergencies that are more than four minutes away from the closest fire station. The second would be a joint police and fire facility in southeast Lincoln, allowing officers who serve that quadrant to deploy from within their area of assignment rather than from downtown. Casady said the time savings is equal to almost one full-time officer. He said a joint facility also saves on the costs of land acquisition, design, utilities and paving.