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Green proposes borrowing $25 million for fire equipment

Veronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis city fire trucks will be retrofitted to reduce their diesel emissions.

The city’s comptroller says she has a way to get the St. Louis Fire Department the equipment it needs, without raising taxes.

Darlene Green has asked aldermen to pass a $25 million general obligation bond issue so the department can purchase at least some of the new trucks it needs. All of its vehicles are at least 10 years old, and back-up equipment was built in 1989.

"Our firefighters provide essential services to the community.  Yet, vital equipment needed to do their jobs is not supported by the ½ cent sales tax in which the police, parks and recreation and the wards receive annually.  Firefighters receive no dedicated capital funds to address critical equipment deficiencies, and for some fire equipment a one-year lead time is needed," Green said in a written statement. 

The $25 million would not require a tax increase, Green said. 

"I would like to see that on the spring ballot, so that the citizens can kind of get a break, " she said.

In August, voters rejected a $180 million bond issue that would have raised taxes. Approval from two-thirds of city voters would also be required for the smaller bond issue.

Also in the spring, St. Louisans will consider whether to retain the city's earnings tax, which provides about a third of its general fund revenue. Green said she "strongly supports" a vote to protect the earnings tax.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann        

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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