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Half-cent sales tax on ballot in Seneca could resolve delayed em - KOAM TV 7

Half-cent sales tax on ballot in Seneca could resolve delayed emergency response times

Updated:
A half-cent sales tax on the April 8th ballot in Seneca aims to resolve an issue the town has faced for years, delayed emergency response times.
The tax would also help fund the police and fire departments, which have seen drastic cuts in funding in recent years.
If you live in Seneca, you know about the trains.
"Our roads are constantly congested with the traffic from railroads," said Karen Cox, Seneca resident.  "It's always something people talk about, 'what if my house caught on fire?'"
Any fires south of the main railroad tracks are in danger of a delayed response from the fire department, which is located on the north side of the tracks.
Officials say trains pass through sometimes as often as every 20-25 minutes.
"Many times these trains are just gaining speed of slowing down, so they're not going through here at 50 mph," said Police Chief James Altic, Seneca Police Department.  "They're going slow, sometimes they're stopped."
This prevents some from getting the medical attention they need.
"We had a man with a heart attack the other day, we had to wait 15 minutes just to get medical personnel over there," Altic said.  "That's unacceptable."
So far there have been no fatalities caused by train delays, but officials fear it could happen.
"That day is coming," said Fire Chief Darren King, Seneca Fire Department.  "I'm just trying to prevent that day if we couldn't get there in time."
The money generated by the half-cent sales tax would be divided between the police and fire departments, both of which have seen a drastic decrease of $31,000 in interest funding since 2006.
"It's actually almost a necessity at this point to keep everything going status quo," Altic said.
The fire department plans to use the money generated through the sales tax on building the new fire station south of the tracks and to help with training costs.
"Nobody wants to pay higher taxes, I get that, so we're asking for something minute just to keep us afloat," Altic said.
Officials say the new fire station could also reduce the city's Insurance Service Office rating, which might reduce home insurance rates for Seneca residents.
The new station would also relieve over-crowding at the current location.
The departments are hosting an open house regarding the tax on Thursday, March 20th at 5:00 p.m. at the building they share.
If approved, officials expect the new fire station to be operating by the end of the year.
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