Savings could be on the horizon for Highlanders.
Highlands council has been working to improve the District’s fire insurance rating through Superior Shuttle Accreditation. For homeowners, this could ultimately mean a reduction in their residential insurance costs.
“I think anything that helps improve our roads or fire service is super important,” said Mayor Ken Williams.
Historically, he added, Highlands has been reluctant to borrow money, but in this case the improvements to an already excellent fire service are deemed worthwhile. “We generally save up for the things we do.”
But Williams said in this case, it made more sense to borrow the money to get the upgrades done sooner.
Council members have been carefully weighing the decision, with the help of public input, and ultimately decided that the savings in home insurance would be substantially larger than the tax increase to pay for the upgrades.
“It’s going to raise taxes a little bit on the fire side, but hopefully (insurance savings) will mediate that.” Williams said he’d even heard of one resident being quoted a savings of $1,400 on homeowner’s insurance.
The proposed upgrades include an additional single-axle fire tanker truck and a post-disaster fire bay for the West Fire Hall at 1564 Millstream Rd.
With the addition of a 2,000-gallon tanker, the department could shuttle more water to a fire, a move that would improve the District’s rating from semi-protected to protected.
This standard is the equivalent to a municipal fire hydrant system that produces 200 gallons per minute.
Williams said anyone can drive the tanker, as it only requires a class 5 license – that fact was key to the decision to purchase a single-axle truck.
The new truck is estimated to cost roughly $270,000 while the additional bay is pegged at about $230,000 for a combined cost of roughly $500,000.
Council gave the first three readings to a bylaw at last week’s council meeting that would authorize the funding for this project. “It’s a pretty tight timeline,” Williams said, adding they’re hoping to have it on the agenda for the Capital Regional District’s municipal finance authority in the fall.
In the meantime, the loan authorization bylaw is expected to come before Highlands council one more time later in April.
Did you know?
Insurance companies calculate home fire insurance premiums using the Fire Underwriters Survey, a rating of a municipality’s fire protection services. The District of Highlands roughly estimates its proposed fire department upgrades and future maintenance would cost property owners approximately $40 for every $100,000 of land assessment value.
Fire insurance savings could be approximately $80 per $100,000 of building replacement value.
To determine what your tax increase could potentially be, divide your assessment value by $100,000 and then multiply by $40.
To calculate your potential fire insurance premium reduction, divide your building replacement value by $100,000 and multiply by $80.
The final figure is ultimately determined by your insurance provider.