Emergency Sirens Need Updates

1 decade 1 year 5 months ago November 03, 2005 Nov 3, 2005 Thursday, November 03 2005 Thursday, November 03, 2005 10:05:21 AM CST in News

Columbia officials are listening to a warning siren about the sirens themselves.  But Billy Nichols has a warning of his own.  He says there are too many taxes.

"I think the middle class people have been over taxed for years and they've got to put a stop to it somewhere,"  Nichols said.

The city says 21 of it's 36 emergency warning sirens need replacement.

"A big part of them were put in place way back in the early sixties when I was involved personally in developing an emergency fallout plan for our city,"  Columbia City Manager Ray Beck said.

Beck says the city stockpiled parts to fix the old sirens because companies don't make them anymore.  But the stockpile is running out.  Beck wants voters to pass Proposition Three, a quarter cent sales tax to help pay for new sirens.

"The tax means for every $20 you spend in Columbia you will pay an extra nickel,"  Beck said. 

The sirens cost $18,000 a piece, so the city is facing a $400,000 bill. And Beck says the sirens must be replaced.

"We want to keep our emergency preparedness plan up to date and one of the first warning signals is the sirens,"  Beck said.

Voters have approved and paid for the Capital Improvement Tax for more than a decade.  If voters reject Proposition Three, the quarter cent sales tax ends at the start of 2006.  If voters approve Proposition Three, the move would extend a quarter cent sales tax for an additional three years. 

"If it's that important, I believe it is an important thing, but they need to check other places without keep raising the taxes more and more,"  Nichols said.

Columbia voters can decide what siren to heed next Tuesday.

If voters approve Proposition Three it would generate $15,000,000.  A large portion of that money would build two new fire stations and replace Fire Station Seven on South Providence.  Other improvements include new fire department equipment like ten new fire vehicles and a proposed $1,000,000 training facility for the Columbia Police Department.

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