AUGUSTA — A proposal asking residents whether the city should borrow about $6 million to expand and renovate Hartford Station, the Fire Department’s 96-year-old headquarters, goes before city councilors for discussion Thursday.

Later in the same meeting, councilors are scheduled to consider approving a total of $2 million in other capital improvement projects, $750,000 of which councilors can approve themselves, and the remaining $1.3 million of which also must go to residents for a referendum vote in November.

If councilors act on a recommendation from the city staff, a bond of about $6 million to pay for the renovation and expansion of Hartford Station, the city’s oldest fire station, also could go to voters in the Nov. 8 general election.

Councilors are scheduled to discuss but not vote on the proposal to seek voter approval to bond about $6 million to renovate and expand Hartford at a meeting that begins at 6 p.m. Thursday in the council chamber at Augusta City Center.

The major project would seek to address multiple problems with the current fire station, including garage bays so narrow newer firetrucks won’t fit into them; a structurally deficient floor that can’t support the weight of firetrucks; a lack of space for training, decontaminating equipment and clothing, and access to people with disabilities; and a need to update to current standards and meet the needs of firefighters whose role has changed dramatically since the station was built in 1920.

The building at the head of Rines Hill, above the south end of the city’s downtown, would be expanded on the east side of the site, onto land already owned by the city, with two new large, drive-through garage bays big enough to accommodate modern firetrucks, which have increased in height, width and weight compared to older trucks.

The city’s largest, heaviest firetrucks would be kept there, while the existing four smaller bays would be used to park ambulances, pickup trucks and other lighter, smaller pieces of equipment.

The city already has two firetrucks — an engine and a ladder truck — that can’t be kept at Hartford because they’re too big and heavy. The trucks now are kept at the Western Avenue station, and the city in January expects to take delivery of a new multipurpose ladder firetruck, which also won’t fit inside Hartford.

Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager, on Tuesday pointed at an old photograph of Hartford Station with two horses pulling a piece of fire apparatus, next to an old firetruck, barely bigger than a modern pickup truck.

“This is what it was built for,” he said.

Then, showing a photograph of a modern firetruck that dwarfed its much smaller predecessors, he added, “Not this.”

City officials have been aware of the need to upgrade the station for years, and they have designated tax revenue to be collected in multiple Tax Increment Financing districts in the city to help pay for fire station improvements.

“It’s a major community investment; it’s a big commitment,” City Manager William Bridgeo said of the project. “It’s also something I think that needs to be addressed.”

The city considered a similar proposal several years ago but failed to secure sought-after federal stimulus money available at the time. An architect recently revisited those plans and provided an updated estimate of the cost, of about $6 million.

If councilors agree to do the renovation and expansion of Hartford, Bridgeo and St. Pierre recommend that the question be readied in time to go to voters in November.

In the meantime, the garage floor issue at Hartford probably will get some more immediate attention regardless of whether the larger renovation and expansion takes place. Earlier this year, the city discovered cracks had developed in the flooring, which is built on top of a basement, and it could no longer hold fire engines. That’s when the engine kept there was moved to the Western Avenue station.

St. Pierre said the city plans to do a temporary fix, using cribbing to shore up two of the four bays at Hartford so they can support the weight of the fire trucks. He said the work will go out to bid within a couple of weeks. He said the cost hasn’t yet been determined. Officials previously have speculated the work can be done for less than $60,000.

A $4 million fire station is under construction at the intersection of Leighton Road and Anthony Avenue, to serve the north Augusta area. Hartford is expected to remain as the city’s main fire station after construction of the new station is complete.

Councilors are scheduled to vote on the other two bonds — $750,000 in bonds for paving and other major capital improvements, which can be adopted, per city charter rules, by a council vote; and $1.3 million in bonds for other capital improvements, which would go to voters in November.

Bridgeo said funding to pay next year’s payments on the proposed $750,000 bond already was included in the city’s current year budget.

The $1.3 million in bonds for which voter approval must be sought would be paid back with proceeds collected in the city’s TIF accounts, and thus would have no direct effect on the property tax rate. The primary funding source would be natural gas TIF money.

The city established a natural gas TIF in 2011, as competing gas companies Maine Natural Gas and Summit Natural Gas of Maine began installing gas lines in Augusta. The companies pay the city property taxes on the gas lines.

While some TIFs are used to return taxes paid on new development to the developer, in this case the city receives all the proceeds from the natural gas TIFs.

Collecting tax revenue in a TIF allows municipalities to use those funds for specific uses allowed under state law, including infrastructure, downtown revitalization or economic development projects. By sheltering such money in a TIF, municipalities avoid reductions in state aid to education and other negative tax effects that would occur if the new value in the TIF simply were added to the city’s total valuation instead of being sheltered in a TIF.

Major projects proposed to be included in next year’s capital improvement plan include $650,000 for paving on multiple city streets, $300,000 for ditching and pavement preparation on Cross Hill Road, $320,000 for architectural and engineering costs for the expansion and renovation to Hartford Station, $250,000 in repairs to the front entrance of Augusta Civic Center, $225,000 for road and sidewalk work on Commercial Street, and $80,000 to buy a portable stage for use on the waterfront and other locations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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