The Woodward News

Local News

November 18, 2012

New central fire station could happen in 2 years

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — FUNDING STILL TO BE DETERMINED

Another big factor that will impact the construction timeline will be funding. Especially as Riffel said the city hasn't yet determined exactly how the new station will be funded.

During a city commission budget workshop in May, Riffel had suggested that the city's current sales tax base wasn't sufficient to cover the construction of a new fire station.  The implication was that the city might need to seek a sales tax increase in order to afford the new station and other important capital improvement projects.

However, when The News asked Riffel if a sales tax increase was still being considered after the recent decision to move forward on the new station, he said the city was "going to assess multiple factors" when evaluating funding options.

"We know the economy is not going to stay as strong as it is now forever.  But right now it is strong and that reduces the need for a comprehensive sales tax increase," Riffel said, adding "The last thing we want to do is raise taxes on the community; so if we can avoid that, we will.

To help with that, he said the city could soon be in a position to take on new debt.

"We will have some debt service completed in Fiscal Year 2013-2014," he said. "In the first quarter of 2014 we will retire the debt on the hospital and that will allow us some latitude on new debt."

But before accepting new debt, Riffel said the city will have to examine revenue projections to determine "how we can go about serving the debt."

"We'll have to see how our revenues continue this year and what the projections are for the next 15 years," he said.

However, those projections won't come until the last quarter of the current fiscal year.

"As we go into the budgeting season, we'll be able to do that longer-term forecasting for capital projects," Riffel said.

But because the funding must be established before construction on the new station can begin, the city manager noted that might push the groundbreaking back even more.

However, he is confident that construction will begin by the end of calendar year 2013.

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