Lyon Fire district top priority for federal appropriation; tax increase still a possibility.

DAYTON -- Central Lyon fire district officials will consider a 2-cent tax increase tonight.

District Chief John Gillenwater said many districts the same size as the five-town, eight-station Central Lyon County Fire District operate with much larger budgets.

"These other districts either have a larger tax base or higher tax rate then we do. We ran 80 more calls than Incline Village last year with about one-eighth of the budget."

The board does not have to go to the voters for a 2-cent increase, but noting Mason Valley Fire District is asking for a 10-cent increase, Gillenwater said the residential growth of the Highway 50 corridor would probably necessitate having to go to voters in the near future for a tax override.

Taxpayers aren't the only source of funds for the fire district.

According Fire District Board member Susan Lawson, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., with the support of Sen. Harry Reid,D-Nev., and Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev. placed funding for two Central Lyon County fire facilities as his top priority for this year's federal funding cycle. Gibbons will introduce it in the House.

The proposal includes building a Central Lyon County Silver Springs Regional Training Center, including homeland security training, at the Silver Springs Airport and a new fire station in Stagecoach.

Hale and Kay Bennett, owners of the airport, have agreed to donate land for the training facility.

Lawson said voters' rejection of a fire district tax initiative in November 2000 spurred her to look for an alternative means to build needed fire facilities in the rapidly growing district.

She found support from Nevada's congressional delegation.

"I worked with district staff to put together a concept, with the premiere goal of getting a multi-use facility to help at the airport as it develops," Lawson said. "We have kept it pretty low key up to this point because we didn't want to get our hopes up only to have everyone be disappointed."

The district will seek letters of support from local advisory boards and Lyon County commissioners. State Sen. Mark Amodei and Assemblyman Joe Dini have indicated they will support the proposal.

Gillenwater complimented Lawson for her two-year effort. He said the project is still in its conceptual stages and no precise plans have been drawn yet, but, when the new facilities are completed they will likely replace the current Silver Springs and Stagecoach stations.

"With federal appropriations, we have to make the facilities as multi-functional as possible," Gillenwater said. "The Stagecoach station will serve as a backup to the airport facility. The two Silver Springs stations are fairly close together, so equipment from Silver Springs would probably be moved to the airport."

Lawson said the congressional delegation supported the proposal last year, but it was not a high priority. The recent addition of the homeland security/training center was key, giving Lawson reason to be optimistic this year.

"Initial presentations to the Senate appropriations committees will begin within the next few weeks. We won't know much until October," Lawson explained. "The project could save district taxpayers up to $2.5 million if it is approved and the added fire protection should encourage development at the airport."


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