This letter is written in gratitude for the Wood River Fire & Rescue (WRFR) personnel providing outstanding life and structure saving services in Blaine County, Hailey and Bellevue. The Wood River Fire Protection District’s WRFR needs a new fire station but building one now is not the correct nor equitable solution to the problem. A consolidation between WRFR and Hailey Fire Department is the most sustainable and cost-efficient remedy.

The upcoming fire bond election on May 17 is not the solution; it only adds to the problems of inefficiency and expense by not consolidating the departments. All else equal, property owners in unincorporated Blaine County south of the Greenhorn Bridge and north of Base Line Road will see their property taxes increase nearly 20% based on the bond alone. Just 1,400 properties will carry the full burden of the $17.1 million bond, causing an 88% Fire District Tax hike of $74.33 per $100,000 assessed value for 25 years. This Fire District does not include the cities of Hailey or Bellevue.

There is a much better alternative: A consolidated fire district serving rural Blaine County, Hailey and Bellevue would reduce and reapportion property owner fire taxation and share vital service costs equitably.

The proposed building site for the new fire station is on 2.5-acres owned by the Life Church Wood River, Inc. in Blaine County, zoned R-1, one-acre single residences. Fire Stations are not allowed on this property per Blaine County zoning law. How can a $17.1 million bond go to vote without compliance for a fire station where it is not permitted in the zoning of the property critical to the project?

Please vote "no" and work for consolidation between the county and cities of Hailey and Bellevue for a more appropriate site and partnership. Our first responders deserve much better than this.

Christine Cole

Blaine County

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