As many of you know, the Whippany Fire Company and Hanover Fire District No. 2 have endeavored to build a new state-of-the-art firehouse designed to last for the next 100 years.
The Fire Company and Fire District commissioners have worked tirelessly to make this happen and have overcome several unforeseen obstacles which prevented them from completing the project in a timely manner. Our Whippany Fire first responders are at a critical juncture now and need the community’s help. They have an opportunity to replace their current $3 million variable rate construction loan with a low-interest fixed rate loan administered by the Morris County Improvement Authority.
They also hope to borrow additional funds to help finish the remaining work on the new firehouse which is estimated to be $2.8 million. In order to do this, Whippany Fire District No. 2 will need your support in approving their ability to borrow up to $6.1 million in a special election on August 10.
It is important to note that it is not the district’s intent to borrow that much. In fact, once the old firehouse is sold – it is under contract – and the loan specifications are finalized, the actual amount borrowed should drop to about $4.9 million. Interest costs and risks will also be reduced due to the lower, fixed rate. Of the $4.9 million borrowed, $3 million will be used to pay off the existing variable rate loan. The remaining $1.9 million plus proceeds from the sale of the old firehouse will go toward completion of the new firehouse.
The request to borrow up to $6.1 million provides a margin for safety should the old firehouse sale not close in a timely manner. Should that happen, all proceeds from the eventual sale would go straight to paying down the loan. Ultimately, Fire District No. 2 intends to only borrow an additional $1.9 million. So, what does this mean to Whippany Fire District No. 2 taxpayers? The Morris County Improvement Authority has estimated that at $4.9 million in bonding – $1.9 million more than the district’s current debt – the average Fire District No. 2 homeowner would pay about $12 annually in additional fire taxes. In the unlikely event that the full $6.1 million in bonding is utilized, the increase would equate to around $17 per year.
No one likes it when taxes go up, but I hope you will agree this is a relatively small price to get the new firehouse completed. Our support will also send a clear message to our first responders that we are grateful for all they do to keep us safe.
Remember, these are the people that come out when your CO2 detector goes off at 3 a.m. or when your basement floods after a major weather event. Most importantly they are there when we are injured or our home or business is threatened by fire – 24/7/365.
As a Township Committeeman and liaison to public safety, it is my goal to ensure the community is adequately protected. Getting our firefighters and EMT’s into their new facility as soon as possible will go a long way to insure we are.
Accordingly, I urge your support for the Whippany Fire Department referendum by voting “yes” Saturday, August 10.
Hanover Township Committeeman