KUNA, Idaho — While all of the Treasure Valley is experiencing growth, Kuna is feeling a bulk of the growing pains.
The growth is leaving Kuna’s small rural fire department to tend to a town much larger than it can handle.
Fire Chief T.J. Lawrence said when the department is fully staffed, there are five firefighters to serve the entire town. The proposed bond would add a new fire station and a levy would bring on six additional firefighters.
“We're just behind in our ability to provide a good quality service that everybody deserves,” Lawrence said
In Kuna, a town of around 36,000 people and counting, overlapping calls for help happen 25% of the time, according to the fire department. With little staff, oftentimes there’s no one left to help.
“The first person is going to get all of the help that they need. Second person, not so much. They might be coming from another jurisdiction, meridian, Boise or Nampa,” Lawrence said. “The second call could be sometime before you get help.”
Kuna Fire has five emergency personnel per shift to respond to over 2,000 calls per year
Farmers Insurance Agent Kelsey Holder said he has an up-front view from his office on Kuna's Main Street of the fire department rushing all over town.
“One of the things we see every day is Kuna Rural Fire driving by here in front of the office with sirens going, people pulling over and as they get down to the stop sign, they have to go across the tracks,” he said.
A large part of Kuna’s population lives south of the train tracks, and the crew has to stop each time there’s a train passing.
“Without that second fire station, if I had a fire at my office here in Kuna, and unfortunately there’s another out south of town here, Kuna Rural Fire is going to have to call in Meridian and Nampa, and the resources are just stretched too thin,” Holder said.
What will it cost Kuna residents?
If given the green light by voters, the projected increase would be approximately $1.96 per month for every $100,000 of the assessed property value according to Kuna Fire. A typical property owner outlined as $346,000 with the primary residence exemption, would see a projected increase of $6.79 per month or $81.45 per year.
Some residents say it's too expensive and that they don’t want to pay for it.
“It affects everybody’s pocketbook. Nobody wants to pay extra money for something they don’t believe in,” Lawrence said. “I think they can believe in the fact that the funds are going to be used for a good cause. It’s for the community, it’s for their protection.”