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Taylor Mill citizens continue to complain to commission about the new firehouse

By Patricia A. Scheyer
NKyTribune reporter

Disgruntled and downright angry citizens of Taylor Mill gathered in the community center of Park Place determined to once again try to force the city to completely abandon their plans to look into building a new firehouse. The arguments are the same as the last six months that they have attended the Taylor Mill meetings.

Resident Judy Reis had hard words for the commission. (Photos by Patricia Scheyer/NKyTribune)

One by one the residents spoke, many of them angry when the Mayor and Commissioners listened to the comments and didn’t respond. The city said they try not to respond because it is a citizen comment section, and the firehouse was not on the agenda.

“I’m beginning to see a trend here, that you don’t want to talk to us about what’s going on, that you want all of this to be not in the public, well the thing is, this is a public matter,” challenged Judy Reis on her turn at the podium. “This is something that needs to be discussed here, we meet once a month. I’m really getting discouraged about the way this council is conducting these meetings now. This is not even what I got up here to talk about. My question is, what is your process for these estimates?”

Taylor Mill City Administrator Brian Haney explained once again that they are going to try a new process called Bid-Build, where the city tells the companies what their money limit is and gives them a very detailed list of what they want in a building. All costs, such as engineering and architecture are included in the price limit the city gives the companies.

Haney said he hadn’t put the project out to bid yet because he has been told that the list has to be as detailed as possible to be able to gather the most accurate price bids. He said he hopes to have it out to bid by the end of June.

Commissioner Dan Murray told the audience that they had gotten prices of $3.50 to $4 per square foot before now, and they want to get it down to at least $2.50 per square foot.

“If we can’t get what we want, we just say thanks, but no thanks,” Murray stated.”At the most we lose a couple of months. I just want to see how this works out. All we can do is give it a shot. I tell you right now I am not putting a bandaid – if we stay with the firehouse, I am not putting a bandaid on it.”

Murray brought up that the city of Erlanger just used the program to build a maintenance garage.

He said that they were able to pay $2.50 a square foot to build the garage.

Commissisoner Dan Murray told the audience that if they don’t like what the companies offer, they can say no thanks.

Mayor Daniel Bell broke his silence by stating that he didn’t believe people could not get in touch with him, as a few residents accused him.

“Look, we know that there is a segment of people that do not want a new firehouse,” he said. “We know there is a segment who want to rebuild the firehouse we have. We have had two open meetings. We have taken your feedback. We’re looking at this hopefully from a frugal point of view. We don’t spend this money frivolously. But there are a whole lot of issues associated with rehabbing that have to take place. This is a process! Give us a chance to see what a new firehouse will look like.”

Roger Reis also challenged the commission.

“Couple of months ago a motion was made to go forward in getting some bids in for upgrading our doing improvements and renovations to our existing firehouse, and that motion was denied,” he stated. “What cost would the city incur to go ahead and request that information from contractors? Is there a cost to the city? Do you have an idea what it would cost? I believe it was stated the new building is not to exceed $4 million, is that correct? So what happens if it comes in above the $4 million? Do we have another plan? Cause we all agree that we have to do something with the existing state of the fire department. So what happens if it takes, I don’t know how much time it is expected to take, so what happens then? Why would it hurt to follow through with research on rebuilding and renovation?”

CAO Haney asked him to call and they could talk over the options rather than take time at the meeting. Reis said he would call.

Haney again attempted to explain that the city puts together a list of the things they want in a new firehouse, along with a price limit, and then the companies submit a plan of what they can do. He told them that former commissioner Rose Merritt had called for a committee of commissioners and citizens back in October before she left the commission, and when that committee met, they compiled a fairly comprehensive list. The city is fine-tuning that list that the residents helped put together.

Commissioner Ed Kuehne asked if the list of things needed for the firehouse was available yet, and Haney told him it should be in his packet of information, but when he said he hadn’t seen it, Haney said it could be sent to him in the morning.

The approximately 30 residents still murmured angrily.

It was Mike Busse’s turn to speak.

Mayor Daniel Bell asked the people to give the city a chance to see what the firehouse would look like.

“This is getting to be a kangaroo commission,” he said. “These people have questions and they want answers. Is that a problem? I don’t think it is!”

“The problem is when I give an answer, it’s not good enough!” Mayor Bell retorted.

Former Commissioner Rose Merritt got up next to reiterate her claim that the city cannot afford $4 million and to say that she thought the commission didn’t want to hear what the residents are saying.

“It breaks my heart!” she said. “If we’re not speaking to everyone here, I just think we have lost what makes the city great.”

Jeff Groneck said he didn’t think the city even considered rebuilding the firehouse.

“New firehouses don’t put out fires,” he stated. “They don’t! People put out fires! I don’t see how this firehouse is going to fix our problems.”

Mayor Bell spoke about the firehouse decision.

“We didn’t make this decision just for spite,” he told the audience. “We made the decision in the best interest of the city, not only today, but in the future. I will not vote for a tax increase in Taylor Mill. It won’t be because we are building a firehouse. I am not borrowing $4 million. Give us a shot. We heard what you said — We heard you. We have great credit, we are debt free. I don’t know what else we could do.”

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One Comment

  1. GTG says:

    Why are we not talking about consolidating fire services across NKY? Covington has existing stations that could serve TM with similar response times. Why not contract with them for services?

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