by Andrew Crisp
One unexpected casualty of dropping home values and property tax revenue: fire department funding. Friday, fire station 18 on Chinden in Garden City was forced to close its doors due to a cash shortfall.
As property values have nosed downward, to the tune of $1 million, Boise’s fire departments have become increasingly cash-strapped. North Ada County Fire and Rescue contracted out services in East Garden City, and parts of the Boise Bench to Boise City. The department was unable to manage the entire area itself based on already low income levels, with Boise taking over on January 1.
"We've never faced the dilemma we have now, which is not enough money from property taxes," said Mike Irvan, chairman of the district’s board. "We didn't realize we'd have such a drastic decrease in revenue."
The fire station on Glenwood, built in 1967, will now act as North Ada’s response facility. The decision to close the newer facility on Chinden—built in 1997—was made due to safety concerns.
"It's annoying the (heck) out of me to close a modern station, but when you look at the maps, it's the right thing to do for public safety," said Fire District commissioner Margaret Dimmick.
The Boise Fire Chief maintains that this will not affect the City of Boise. However, Garden City fire response times will be slower without the Chinden station.
"The east end of town ... we do get a lot of calls for service down there. I'm not too excited about it remaining closed," said John Evans, major of Garden City.
While the station was forced to close this morning, all eight firemen will relocate, and will be assigned to Boise Fire Department stations, which had nine availabilities. However, Boise Fire will be seeking a federal grant to help pay for their positions; they’re low on funding as well.