The Payson council Thursday voted to build a third fire station at the eastern edge of town with $1.5 million in bonding authority approved by voters in 2003.
The surprise announcement capped eight months of negotiations spearheaded by Vice Mayor Mike Vogel, who cobbled together a deal to build the new fire station for about half the cost of previous estimates.
The town has already negotiated a purchase price for a hillside lot at Highway 260 and Tyler Parkway, which includes the cost of the plans.
Preliminary estimates suggest the $1.5 million in remaining bonding authority will pay for the land, the station and a fire truck, thanks in part to a sharp drop in both land costs and construction costs in the past year.
“It’ll be a Ford fire station, not a Cadillac fire station,” said Mayor Kenny Evans.
Evans said the town could be “pouring concrete” by fall.
The new station could cut response times to about half on the eastern side of town.
Ironically, two luxury homes burned to the ground in Chaparral Pines last weekend. The first truck on scene took about eight minutes to arrive.
The full, long-term cost of actually operating the new fire station could be substantial. Payson puts three firefighters on each truck. Providing one firefighter on a 24-hour basis requires four firefighters on the payroll.
The town has applied for stimulus grants that could provide money to pay for four to six new firefighters for two years.
Currently, the fire department’s budget stands a $2.8 million to man two stations, with 80 percent of the money going to pay salaries.