ELECTIONS / BURBANK : Measure D Supporters Put Campaign Into High Gear : Taxes: Activists hope to raise community awareness of the Nov. 5 ballot proposal to fund a new $43-million police and fire facility.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Proponents of a tax measure that would raise funds to replace deteriorating fire and police facilities in Burbank are accelerating their campaign this week to urge voters to pass the measure.

Mary Alice O'Connor, co-chairwoman of a political action committee supporting Measure D, said volunteers would begin phoning residents and circulating mailers detailing why the proposed $43-million facility is essential.

Also planned are precinct walking to raise awareness and a special presentation for the public Wednesday at the fire training center, she said.

"It's time to make sure that Burbank is equipped for the 21st Century," O'Connor said. "This center is so desperately needed. I hope that voters realize that we are working for something that's very positive and helpful for them."

Although Measure D is the only item on the Nov. 5 ballot, Mayor Michael Hastings said the City Council authorized the special election because more voters traditionally show up for November elections.

"We really want to get a move on this right now, and it seems like the perfect time," he said.

The measure can be approved with a majority vote of 50% plus one, officials said.

Under the tax, all residential dwellings, both houses and apartments, would pay a maximum monthly charge of $3.58. Commercial establishments would pay a maximum $2.02 per month for each full-time employee.

Over 30 years, the tax would be collected in conjunction with utility bills, business tax payments or by direct billing. The tax could also be adjusted downward annually by the City Council.

Low-income senior citizens, disabled people and other eligible residents would be exempted from the excise tax.

There has been no organized opposition to the combined headquarters, proponents said. No ballot argument against the measure was filed in the city clerk's office.

City Manager Bud Ovrom said the center is needed because the police and fire headquarters on Olive Avenue have outlived their effectiveness. Ovrom said it makes more sense to build new facilities rather than restore the existing buildings.

"They're in really awful shape," he said. "If we just wanted to do a Band-Aid fix, it would cost about $5 million each and would last five to 10 years. But it won't meet our needs for the future, and future generations will wonder why the fools in the past did things so poorly."

Ovrom said severe crowding and "deplorable working conditions," such as faulty plumbing and electrical systems, are threatening the departments' ability to serve the public.

The fire headquarters, built in 1958, and the police headquarters, built in 1961, are too small for the current personnel and cannot adequately accommodate expanding staffs, emergency services, special patrols and other divisions, he said.

"Fire services have changed over the years, and it was not anticipated that we would have all the programs we have today, such as hazardous materials and paramedics," Fire Chief Michael Davis said. "We just don't have the room to effectively administer these programs."

If the tax is approved, the fire and police headquarters would be consolidated into one building on vacant land at Orange Grove Avenue and 3rd Street. It would include a parking lot for 450 cars, a jail, fire station, emergency operations center, a crime and film lab, and a detective bureau.

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