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Lee’s Summit Voters Approve a $14.5 Million No-Tax Increase Bond Initiative for Public Safety Improvements

The City of Lee’s Summit’s history of overwhelming support for ballot issues continued on Tuesday, November 8, with the approval of a $14.5 million no-tax increase bond election that will fund replacing the current Fire Station No. 3, replacing older air packs for fire personnel, upgrading the radio system for public safety and improving network capability at City-owned buildings and facilities. Lee’s Summit has not had a failed City-initiated, no-tax increase ballot question since 1995.

A four-sevenths voter majority was needed for passage of the ballot question. The unofficial election results from the Jackson County Election Board for Lee’s Summit’s 41 precincts are 79.12% or 36,713 with a “yes” response and 20.88% or 9,688 votes with a “no” response.

"I want to thank our community for once again supporting a no-tax increase bond initiative. This one is particularly crucial because it addresses long-term capital projects needs in public safety,” said Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads. “Once implemented these initiatives will have a lasting positive impact on the community for years to come in terms of safety and communication for City staff and residents,” Mayor Rhoads said.

Lee’s Summit Fire Chief Rick Poeschl expressing a similar favorable reaction to the vote said, “The members of the Lee’s Summit Fire Department (LSFD) would like to thank the citizens of Lee’s Summit for their continued support of public safety. Every member of LSFD takes a great deal of pride in the trust the citizens have in our department’s ability to provide a high level of emergency services. We greatly appreciate and value the relationship we have with our community.”

One of those critical projects is the replacement of Fire Station No. 3 built in 1970. The new station will invest in providing separate sleeping quarters, bathroom facilities and locker rooms for men and women. Additionally, the station will provide more space for the equipment bay to house an ambulance in addition to a pumper as well as provide a separate area from the living space to decontaminate equipment

On Nov. 3, the Lee’s Summit City Council approved a MOU that will enable the City to build a new state-of-the-art fire station on a 2.28 acre undeveloped plot owned by John Knox Village on the west side of Pryor Road. The agreement with John Knox Village was contingent on the passage of the no-tax increase general obligation bond initiative.

Both the City and John Knox Village are elated with the bond passage, which will be a win-win situation for both entities. According to an October 28 communication released by John Knox Village, “In exchange for the 2.28-acre plot, City staff will submit a rezoning request that would allow future commercial development along the Pryor Road corridor if approved by the Lee’s Summit City Council. In addition to the zoning consideration, the City would construct a public road and install sewer and water lines to the new fire station. The road, water and sewer lines would be beneficial to John Knox Village when it develops the remainder of the property. “

Based upon some preliminary estimates from the City, it will cost approximately $400,000 to $500,000 to build the public infrastructure required to prepare the property for the new fire station. These costs will be covered by the bond. In exchange for public improvements that will also benefit John Knox Village, the land is being donated to the City.

Platting of the site is expected to begin in spring 2017 with the construction of infrastructure anticipated to begin that same year. Building construction is expected to begin in 2018.

The bond initiative will also make it possible to replace 85 self-contained breathing apparatus known as SCBAs or “air packs.” The air packs provide fresh air to fire fighters during fire, smoke-filled or other hazardous environments. The current air packs are 10 years old and are recommended for replacement.

The bond issue will also fund the digital upgrade of the emergency radio system, which would make Lee’s Summit a part of the Metropolitan Area Regional Radio System or MARRS. As you may not know, the city’s current radio system is analog which is considered older technology and is not used by most jurisdictions within the metropolitan area. In addition to connecting to the regional emergency system, the digital upgrade will alleviate interoperable communications concerns between jurisdictions and improve communications during emergencies.

Lee’s Summit Police Department Chief Travis Forbes said, “An interoperable communications system will greatly benefit emergency services in Lee's Summit and our coordination with regional partners. We take pride in offering the best police services that we can, and this will be a huge help. We are thankful for our partnership with the people of Lee's Summit.”

As far as next steps, the police department will immediately begin the process of searching for a consultant for the radio system project.

The bond issue will also fund the replacement of obsolete and failing equipment and establish wireless and fiber connections to facilities owned and operated by the City.

For more information about the 2016 no-tax increase bond election and its importance to the City, visit the Elections page of cityofls.net or call (816) 969-1010. You can also click the Jackson County Election Board’s Election Summary Report for more information regarding the unofficial election results or other issues on the ballot.