WEST ALEXANDRIA — The Village of West Alexandria will be submitting an application in the amount of $1.5 million to the USDA to construct the Fire and EMS building.
According to Fire Chief Jeff Shafer, the village has been trying to decide the dollar amount they can support versus the proceeds from the levy money. They want to have the USDA process started by Dec. 1, as money will be awarded in January or February.
During a meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, councilmember Shannon Smith made a motion for the village to apply for the total sum of the $1.5 million through USDA to build the building.
“At least we will have the application made for the total number of dollars that we need. After the matter, we can decide if we are going to spend that money [in total],” Smith said.
The motion passed three yes, two no, and one abstention. Council members Holly Robbins and Jerry Carter were the negative votes, with council member Jeff Hickey abstaining.
Shafer explained, “The reason why we asked for $1.5 million is because Chris Wiedner from the WDC Group told us to ask for the max. That way you have time to decide what you can or can’t do. That way, when the USDA application gets returned, they can say they only want $500,000. The rest of that money would return to the USDA pot and they would distribute it out to other people who have applied.
“Now we’re to the point, what type of building we’re going to be able to build. We will be working on timeline as far as that goes. Basically, it is going to be a dollar amount that we are able to afford. That is where we’re at right now. Basically, the committee needs to decide what size building and how much money they want to spend on a Fire/EMS station. That will be the next process.”
Also during the meeting, councilmember Ray Waldeck made a motion to place an additional two mill levy on the next possible ballot to generate funds for the Fire and EMS building.
“Do you think it would be wise to do that?” Mayor Carol Lunsford asked.
“I think it would be wise to have monies on the table versus getting a loan that you don’t have monies for. If you’re going to have a pipe dream, you might as well put it to the voters,” Hickey said.
“My opinion on that is that it would be suicide and a horrible thing to do to the voters,” Shafer said. “I know I have some council members disagree with me, but back in 2016 when the levy actually passed, we could have got the $1.2 million building at $52,000 a year for 2.1 percent fixed for 30 years. Council did not act on it.
“What is going to be said about that, is that I did say we would try to cognitively raise $400,000 to offset some costs. Well, I had some investors that after it passed said, pass a levy and we’ll see. Well, with all the ruckus that went around in our council and people involved, they told me, ‘Forget it, I’m not doing anything.’
“Therefore, the village could have done it back in 2016 with an annual payment of $52,000 for $1.2 million and we would have been in that building in 2017. Costs have went up, interest rates have went up, and the whole nine yards. I hold our previous council responsible for that.”
As for voters who might be discouraged about the state of the Fire and EMS Station, Shafer said, “They need to come to council meetings and make their voices heard. It is their money and these people have been hired to be good stewards of the community’s money and I don’t know that they’re doing a very good job of that at this time.
“Our Fire Association has over $70,000 invested in land in this project ourselves. Our Association has went above and beyond. It is time for council to put something in place.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH