Jackson aldermen who voted against ballot measure say they won't campaign against it

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Jackson Fire Chief Jason Mouser stood near the proposed site of a second Jackson fire station off Old Orchard Road on Wednesday, August 11, 2010. (Kristin Eberts)

Despite disagreement over a satellite fire station in Jackson on Monday night, aldermen who opposed placing a quarter-cent sales tax on the November ballot said they will not publicly campaign against it.

The proposed location is a property the city owns on Old Orchard Road near the east water tower and Interstate 55. Dale Rauh, one of the vote's opponents, said putting the station on that property because it is already paid for is not a good enough reason. He said voters would be willing to pay as much as a half-cent sales tax if the location were capable of helping more residents.

"If it is going to serve more people, then yes, people would be willing to pay higher than what is proposed. More people would have interest in it. I would like to see it closer to the East Main Street corridor. It would give more access to future commercial development and the interchange," he said.

Alderman Mark Dambach served with fire chief Jason Mouser as co-chairman of the committee in charge of developing recommendations for the station. Dambach said the eight committee members exhausted every possibility. He said they looked at a number of parcels on the east side of town, including East Main Street, Bent Creek, Klaus Park, South Bainbridge Road and Old Orchard Road.

However, he said he and fellow committee members were shocked at the price of property in a quickly growing area. Dambach said the committee was looking for between two and three acres to purchase and prices were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for small plots of land in the area.

Like Rauh, Alderman David Reiminger also opposed the location of the new station and voted against placing the sales tax on the November ballot. He also has no plans to actively campaign against the tax.

"No way will I do that," he said. He maintained the city is "painting themselves in a corner" with the proposed site's proximity to the interstate.

Dambach acknowledged the site is not ideal but said the land is not the most important factor, the second fire team is. He said Rauh and Reiminger never discussed their concerns with him between the recommendations being made and Monday's vote. He said that at an earlier study session they said they did not like the location, but Dambach did not know they felt so strongly.

"It was a big surprise. I knew they didn't like the location, but I didn't expect them to be so adamant. There was some anger there," he said. He also said the vehemence with which the two voiced their displeasure was not typical of a board of aldermen meeting.

"Normally we don't do that at a meeting. We just vote, maybe a little discussion, but nothing with that intensity," he said.

The third dissenting vote Monday night was cast by David Hitt, a committee member. Unlike Rauh and Reiminger, he supports both the location and the need for a second station, but voted against it because he felt the board was too divided to have success in November.

"I felt uneasy with going to the public when there was obvious disagreement among the board," he said.

Mayor Barbara Lohr appointed the committee three years ago. The aldermen received periodic updates from the committee on the progress, potential sites and costs. She said she supports the recommendation for the site and said some of the opposing comments at the meeting were unwarranted.

"I was somewhat surprised as I thought it would have been more appropriate to bring this up during the previous study session when we talk about what will be on the next agenda," she said. "The fire station committee worked diligently on this project. They explored and researched many options before coming to a decision. Aldermen Rauh and Reiminger are certainly entitled to their opinion, but I think their vehement criticism of the work of the eight people on the committee was unfair."

cbartholomew@semissourian.com

243-8600

Pertinent Address

101 Court St., Jackson, MO

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