AUGUSTA — Proposals to ask voters to bond $8.1 million for capital improvements, including $3.6 million for a fire station in the burgeoning north Augusta area and $1 million for a new multipurpose firetruck to replace the city’s 20-year old ladder truck, go to city councilors for action Thursday.

City administrators noted that if councilors and, come November, voters approve the borrowing plans, they are not expected to increase property taxes.

That’s because the money to be borrowed for the purchases and projects would be paid back with funds collected in several city tax increment financing, or TIF, accounts. Most of the sheltered funds coming in from the TIF accounts comes from new revenue from commercial development in the north Augusta area. That same growth has prompted the need for a new fire station from which fire trucks and ambulances would be able to respond more quickly in the area where the number of emergency calls has increased.

The TIF money comes from revenue generated by projects including the Marketplace at Augusta, Central Maine Commerce Center, and expansions at J.S. McCarthy and NRF Distributors. The city retained, and will continue to retain for many years, a portion of the tax revenue generated by those developments, which state rules allow the city to spend on projects within the areas in which the TIF developments took place.

Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager, said the development in north Augusta now produces enough revenue to pay off bonds for major projects including the long-discussed fire station, which could be built on the former Quimby lot that the city owns near the intersection of Anthony Avenue and Leighton Road.

“We’ve been planning for years to use TIF proceeds from the growth there to basically pay for the new fire station,” City Manager William Bridgeo said.

Fire Chief Roger Audette has said having a station in north Augusta would speed up response times to car accidents, fires and medical emergencies in the busy commercial area, which includes the Marketplace at Augusta shopping center and the Central Maine Commerce Center, where numerous office workers are employed. It also would be closer to the new MaineGeneral Medical Center.

The bond proposals include $1 million for a new “quint” firetruck, which Audette said is a multipurpose truck with both a ladder and pump on it. The truck would be capable of providing its own water to fight fires and would replace the city’s 1995 ladder truck, which Audette said is nearing the end of its useful life. Audette said the ladder truck doesn’t have any safety problems yet, but such trucks are generally in service for 20 to 25 years. He said the truck is showing signs of rust and other degradation.

“It’s getting to the point where it might not pass its test,” Audette said of the yearly tests done on firetrucks by an independent company to make sure they are still safe and functioning adequately. “If it got to that point, it’d be a significant expense.”

In the long run, Audette said, the multipurpose truck will allow the city to get rid of one of its four pumper firetrucks.

Audette said if a fire station is built in north Augusta, the city would close another fire station, probably the Hospital Street station.

Audette said the proposed new firetruck probably would be kept at the proposed new fire station, because it would be too big and heavy to be kept at the city’s historic central station, Hartford Station, which originally was built for firetrucks pulled by horses.

Other proposed bonds up for council approval, which still would require voter approval in November, include $1.9 million for repairs and energy-efficiency upgrades at the city-owned Augusta Civic Center and $1.6 million for paving and other improvements to several streets in the city.

Another bond expected to go to voters in November would refinance $21 million in existing city debt, which St. Pierre said would save the city money because of lower interest rates.

Councilors are scheduled to consider the bond proposals at their meeting Thursday, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

• discuss a resolution in favor of seeking to have the downtown designated as a National Historic District;

• discuss future development possibilities on city-owned land at the former Statler mill property, which the city has re-dubbed the Kennebec Lockes;

• and consider granting a temporary construction easement to allow the state Department of Transportation to work on the channel around Bond Brook Bridge off Mount Vernon Avenue.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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