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Officials say fire substation plan in Carthage is moving forward - KOAM TV 7

Officials say fire substation plan in Carthage is moving forward

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City officials in Carthage say plans for a fire substation near Highway 571 and Fir Road are moving forward, despite GOP lawmakers planning to attempt to override the governor's veto of a package of sales tax cuts.

"Saving a minute could mean the difference between life and death," said Chief Chris Thompson, Carthage Fire Department.

Officials say the city of Carthage is growing south, further and further away from the only fire station in town.

That's why part of the revenue from a quarter-cent sales tax, passed by voters in 2011, goes towards the building of a new south fire substation.

"Splitting our resources between the north and south ends of town will definitely improve response times," Thompson said.

It will also help with overcrowding at the current station.

The fire safety sales tax generates an estimated $400,000 each year.

However, if the governor's veto of a package of sales tax cuts is overridden, there would be a decrease in all city sales tax revenue.

City officials say the Department of Revenue estimates the decrease could be as much as $625,000 a year, a portion of which would come from the fire safety sales tax.

"Some of the legislators say it's probably not that much, but even if it's half that much, it's going to affect us," said Mike Harris, Mayor for City of Carthage.

No matter what happens in September's veto session, Harris says the fire substation will break ground as early as next Spring. 

"We have made a commitment to the citizens of Carthage and we will live up to that commitment," Harris said.

"Tax revenue impacts the overall construction to some degree, but I am very confident that we are still going to build a fire station," Thompson said.  "But tax revenues do impact what we're able to do as a city."

Officials say the improved responses will not only make the community safer, but also lower insurance rates for those who live in the fire district.

Officials are currently in negotiation to finalize the architectural contract for the project, which will be presented to City Council in August.

$70,000 for architect fees was approved for the next budget year, which goes into effect tomorrow.
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