Taylorsville residents to vote on fire district membership
Taylorsville • The issue of whether this west-side community should join the Salt Lake Fire Service Area District will go to a vote a year from now.
Battalion Chief Jay Ziolkowski of the Unified Fire Authority (UFA) told City Council members Wednesday that the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office has verified that opponents of district membership have gathered enough signatures to put the question on the ballot in November 2013. Their petition had 2,478 valid signatures, nearly double the 1,330 needed, he said.
The council had voted 4-1 in the summer to join the district beginning Jan. 1. The district, which is the body that funds the UFA, had planned to add additional fire personnel and a new fire station in Taylorsville and rebuild an existing station.
By joining the district halfway through the fiscal year, the city would have a one-time savings of $1.9 million when it ends its yearlong contract with the UFA six months early. UFA would continue to provide firefighting services but the fire agency would levy the property taxes to pay the agency and would own the stations and equipment.
City officials, citing a need for increased fire services and the new fire station, said joining the district is the most cost-effective way to attain those goals. Because Taylorsville no long would cover those fire costs under this plan, the council voted in September to lower its portion of property taxes by 50 percent.
However, taxpayers still would be paying slightly more overall for fire services, according to city administrators. Residents who don't think the city needs a new fire station and saw no need for higher taxes then launched a petition drive.
Council member Kristie Overson, who voted for district membership, said last month that she no longer supports the plan after residents in her district bombarded her with emails and phone calls protesting the move.
UFA will continue to provide firefighting services and the city will reopen the budget to find the $1.9 million to pay the agency for the second half of fiscal 2013.