Taylor Mill commissioners voted Wednesday night to change the upcoming monthly caucus meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. to a special meeting to be held Sept. 28 in the evening.
Former commissioner Ed Kuehne said that a 10 a.m. caucus meeting is difficult for working people to attend when he spoke at a public hearing last week, and at last week’s regular commission meeting he reiterated his request for this particular caucus meeting to be held in the evening so that more people can attend.
Commissioner Rose Merritt said she had been thinking along the same lines, and she motioned to move the caucus meeting to 6 or 7 p.m. This caucus meeting is specifically to discuss options of what to do about the aging and troubled firehouse.
“I think we need to talk about rescheduling the caucus meeting to the evening,” Merritt said. “Personally, this is one of the biggest financial decisions the city will ever make. I think residents should have the opportunity to be there to hear our discussion.”
Commissioner Mark Kreimborg prefaced his statements by saying he has never been a fan of caucus meetings.
“I would agree with this,” Kreimborg said. “Most of the residents in the city are not retired and 10 o’clock in the morning is not a good time for them to make it, and I just think we should make it convenient for the majority of residents of the city to make it. Like Rose said, this is probably the largest financial undertaking that we are considering, that the city has ever made, and we need to let the residents be involved and hear what is going on. I’ve never been a fan of caucus meetings, as you all know. I don’t like that we have these meetings at ten o’clock in the morning and the cameras aren’t there, and no one was allowed to speak. It just doesn’t look transparent.”
City Administrator Brian Haney suggested they change the caucus meeting to merge with the special meeting the city decided to hold to pass the second reading of two ordinances, one for the tax rates and the other for trash pickup.
They settled on Sept. 28, and the meeting will start at 7 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. that day, residents will be able to tour the firehouse to see the problems that the commission will be discussing.
The first option is to build a new firehouse on property the city purchased next to the city’s campus, which would give firetrucks and ambulances direct access to the main road. At $9 million, this option would be the most expensive.
If that option were picked, the bays from the current firehouse would be used to house the vehicles from public works, some of which are out in the elements year round.
Another option is to tear down the front of the firehouse, where the offices, the sleeping quarters, the bathrooms, shower, laundry room, lockers and equipment storage are all housed. Then another building would be built on the other side of the bays, which officials said are not in bad shape. Notable in its absence in the current firehouse is a separate hot zone to keep fire carcinogens out of the living quarters.
Option three is to repair the many things that are wrong with the current firehouse, which could cost over $7 million. The fourth option is to do nothing. A fifth option would be to contract fire and ambulance services to another city.
Commissioners said they will take all the opinions into consideration when they discuss the options at the caucus meeting.
But commissioners are reluctant to make a final decision until after the election because Merritt is not running, and there are five people running for four commission spots. In addition, Mayor Daniel Bell is running against Mike Blackburn for mayor. With the possibility of a new mayor or commission, commissioners said they don’t necessarily want to make a decision to tie the hands of the new government, so a final decision on the firehouse may not occur until after November.