On the upcoming April 3 ballot, Mid-County Fire Protection District is asking community members to vote for a $0.19 levy increase primarily to help fund six additional firefighters to staff Station #2 in Greenview.

On the upcoming April 3 ballot, Mid-County Fire Protection District is asking community members to vote for a $0.19 levy increase primarily to help fund six additional firefighters to staff Station #2 in Greenview.

In 2017, Mid-County responded to a record 2,101 calls. This is an average of nearly six calls a day. Covering 227 square miles, these full-time staff members would help to cover the district more efficiently, according to Mid-County Fire Chief Scott Frandsen.

“We want to continue to be able to provide a high quality of service,” he says. “That’s what this increase does.”

Much of the work being done by the district is currently fulfilled by volunteer hours. Frandsen says that, with such a high call volume, this is becoming overwhelming. To compare nearby districts, the only lake fire protection district among districts with full-time personnel to receive more calls in 2017 was Osage Beach Fire Protection District with 2,126 call received. However, the OBFPD has eight full-time firefighters on duty. Mid-County currently only has three and received just 25 fewer total calls overall.

The current levy tax rate Mid-County holds is $0.3899 per $100 of assessed value. This is by far the lowest in the lake area among districts with full-time personnel, with the next lowest coming from the OBFPD at $0.5934 per $100. Even with a 19-cent increase, Frandsen points out that Mid-County would still be the lowest at $0.5799.

The final stat that Frandsen provided was the square mileage difference, which is substantial. Mid-County’s 227 square mile coverage is by far the largest, with Gravois Mills Fire Protection District being second largest with 150 square miles to cover.

Frandsen believes that, with the call volume they are taking and the land covered, the levy increase is necessary to continue working at their level of quality. He says that since bringing forth the proposal, the community feedback thus far has been positive. He does worry, though, that the voter turnout will be low this year. He says that with so many local races being uncontested, he worries that community members will not feel the need to vote.

Station #2 in the Greenview area is the second largest station area within Mid-County. Many of the firefighters involved are with the district on a volunteer basis. According to Frandsen, there are times that incidents take place and they have to call in help from Camdenton which can dramatically increase response times. The funds from this levy would allow Mid-County to staff more full-time responders at Station #2 and have two full-time staff members in station at all times.

Frandsen says that any other funds secured through this levy increase not going towards staffing would be used to update equipment and district vehicles. He says he wants to avoid buying new equipment in bulk, because the gear will degrade at the same time creating maintenance issues all at once. Instead, he wants to make incremental changes over time to keep a constant cycle flowing with purchases made.

“Buying too much equipment at a time can be a maintenance headache,” Frandsen said. “We want to try and alleviate that. However, by far the majority of this money is for staffing.”

If the levy increase is denied, Frandsen says they will continue to push as many volunteer hours as possible to keep up with demand. He’s aware that the district has had issues in the past to secure this levy increase and has plans to try to recruit new volunteers if need be. Even so, he sees the demand for the service and the quality provided as a way to truly showcase the need for the money.

“We have a great staff here, we really do. I would put these men and women up against anybody. But they need help, and that’s what we are aiming to provide,” Frandsen said.

In addition to adding money, the district has also reduced debt to help make this proposal work and hopefully be more palatable for taxpayers.

In 2011, the district was able to refinance its $5 million bond issue from 2000, used at the time for capital improvement, allowing the district to pay the bonds off three years early. He says this allowed for the 25-cent debt service levy associated with the bond issue to be eliminated, decreasing the tax rate by 25 cents in 2016. He says this saved the taxpayers $370,000.