After two years of facing opposition to levy increase, the Mid-County Fire Protection District will once again ask voters to approve an additional 30 cents.


Fire chief Scott Frandsen said the board has mulled it over since last April's election and did not come to the decision lightly.


"It was an incredibly tough decision, but in order to keep up the level of service the community expects us to provide, we need the funding," he said.


After two years of facing opposition to levy increase, the Mid-County Fire Protection District will once again ask voters to approve an additional 30 cents.

Fire chief Scott Frandsen said the board has mulled it over since last April's election and did not come to the decision lightly.

"It was an incredibly tough decision, but in order to keep up the level of service the community expects us to provide, we need the funding," he said.

The announcement comes on the heels of budget cuts the fire district implemented last December, reducing some of its operational costs to maintain the core services.

The board cut one of the district's 10 paid positions (fire inspector), shut down two engines, sold four vehicles and no longer pays 50 percent of dependent health insurance coverage.

"These are short-term solutions, though, what I refer to as a stop-gap," he said. "It takes a lot to keep a district like this running. We serve a third of the county, respond to more than 1,200 calls per year and we have six fire engines and two boat docks to man and maintain."

Frandsen said their last resort is to ask taxpayers for more money, but to keep from making even more cuts, they are making the appeal to voters once again.

If a levy increase is passed it would mean taxpayers would pay $57 a year, or $4.75 a month, for a $100,000 home. Additionally, Frandsen said his proposed 10-year plan would reduce the likelihood of future levy increases.

"We're realists; we know it's a lot to ask of people in these economic times, but this is critically important," he said.

What the levy pays for
The 30-cent levy originally passed in 1986 was reduced years later to 26 cents, which goes to the district's operational costs. In 2000, 22 cents was approved to pay back capital improvement bonds.

The budget is a result of the 26 cents, which has been set to $833,550 this year. Human Resources sees the lion's share of that - $565,850 - to pay for expenditures like employee wages, insurance and taxes. The remaining $267,700 goes toward maintaining the 28 vehicles and six fires stations, paying for fuel, training, uniforms, supplies, utilities, and other similar expenses.

If other cuts have to be made next year, Frandsen said it would have to be to the human resources side of the budget.

Services provided by Mid-County
Frandsen said fire districts today go above and beyond the calls to put out a fire. Car accidents, lift assists, emergency and medical response and dive emergencies are high on their dispatch logs, and firefighters now have to be trained to handle every emergency situation they come across.

Training for both paid and volunteer personnel, along with protective gear, uniforms and pagers, can be costly, but necessary, he said. Without the funding, he said programs and employees may have to be cut, meaning services may not be what the public expects.

"People have a basic expectation of what our services should be," he said. "Without the training, equipment or manpower, it can be a danger or burden on folks and employees." Fires, emergency and medical response, hazardous materials response, technical and heavy rescue, water rescue, community safety education, business fire safety inspections, fire cause determination, pre-construction plan review, building and fire code enforcement are among the services Mid-County provides.

Levies of other lake-area fire districts  (per $100 of assessed valuation)
Mid-County .4887
Osage Beach .5934
Sunrise Beach .6787
Lake Ozark .8647 (fire and ambulance)
Gravois .6517

By the numbers
220 number of square miles the district covers
6 number of fire stations
2 number of paid firefighters on duty 24 hours a day
50 number of active volunteers
1,124 number of incidents the district responded to in 2009
11 minutes average response time
12,706 number of man hours for training and incidents in 2009