The Viroqua City Council plans to replace the fire department’s 20-year-old aerial fire truck in 2014.
The council unanimously approved including $850,000 for a new truck in its proposed 2014 budget. A public hearing on the $5.9 million budget has been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 26. The budget includes a $46,000 increase in local property taxes. Property taxes will increase from $1.74 million to $1.78 million, or 2.5 percent.
The proposed property tax rate in Viroqua would increase by 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed value from $8.05 in 2013 to $8.24 in 2014. A property valued at $100,000 would see its annual city taxes increase from $805 to $824.
Replacing the aerial truck has become an annual concern. City administrator John Severson said the city would reach out to businesses and civic organizations for contributions toward the aerial truck, because it provides fire protection to the largest buildings in the community. This includes the Viroqua Area Medical Office Building and Vernon Memorial Healthcare.
The Viroqua Fire Department played a significant role in fighting the fire at the Organic Valley Headquarters in La Farge in May. Viroqua’s aerial truck was on the scene for the entire fire and helped OV save more than half of the headquarters building.
The aerial truck was not initially in the final budget for 2014. Alderman Mark Rahr said it was important to get the truck in the budget as it pertains directly to the “safety of firefighters.”
Other items among the capital expenditures include a construction project to rebuild Nelson Parkway for $350,000, two new squad cars for the police department for $55,000 and construction of a new maintenance building for the park and rec department for $100,000.
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