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Audubon fire hall would be $11 a year

Good news: The proposed fire hall in Audubon will cost the owner of a $100,000 home just $11 a year for township residents in the country and $30 for those in town, not $132 a year as previously reported.

The error was made in a story in Wednesday’s Detroit Lakes Tribune when a reporter wrote it would cost $11 per month and an editor calculated that out to $132 a year. All involved regret the error.

The actual cost is $11 per year.

Supporters of the project were understandably distraught at the mistake.

“People are thinking it’s a huge increase to their taxes, and they’re a lot more likely to want to vote against it,” said Jason Leucuta, volunteer fire fighter for the Audubon department, “This could be a deal-breaker for us for the project.”

Leucuta says he’s been getting phone calls from a lot of people who are supportive of the idea of a new fire hall, but are concerned with the misprint and its possible implications on a project they say is needed for a number of reasons.

The Audubon Fire Department is operating out of a building that is deteriorating so bad that its foundation is sinking, there is mold throughout the building and according to Leucuta, will soon be uninsurable after being flagged for its crumbling conditions.

He says the city will no longer give the department permits to fix major structural deficiencies because the 50 to 60 year old building is too far gone.

Safety issues are also a huge concern for the department, as they are forced to squeeze too many fire and emergency vehicles into a garage far too small and with too few garage doors for them to come out of.

That means when an emergency call comes in, firefighters often have to first move trucks in order to get the others out.  That, they say, takes a toll on response time.

Their goal to remedy the situation is to tear down the deteriorating building and construct a new fire hall/emergency center.

Although bids vary considerably, the department expects the project to cost approximately $800,000.  The volunteer firefighters and emergency responders have already fundraised enough to cover about $170,000 of that, with plans to continue those efforts.

In the past, department volunteers have put on spaghetti feeds, 5-K fundraisers and ran pull tabs and bingo in order to purchase equipment.

Sitting in the old fire hall is over million-dollars of top-notch equipment bought and paid for by the volunteer’s time.

“But we just can’t swing the entire thing this time,” said Leucuta.  He says although the project may not be put on the ballot for a vote, they are likely to still engage in a building bond through township taxes.Community involvement in this project is important to them, says Leucuta, and that’s why department volunteers are worried that a mistake in information getting to residents could be “a very, very bad thing.”

A committee with the Audubon Fire Department is currently working with township board members to get approval for the project, which they hope to have up by next year.