In replacement of the debt service levy, the MCFPD is asking voters for a 19-cent operations levy increase to hire additional firefighters. The district's current levy of .3899, approved in August, would be bumped up to .5799 for 2018 if approved by voters.
Mid-County Fire Protection District is looking to voters to staff another station house full time through a type of levy swap, though district taxpayers would still be paying less than what they are now.
According to a press release from the MCFPD, its 25-cent debt service levy that paid for bonds approved in 2000 is gone after the district was able to pay off the debt three years early. The bonds had originally been scheduled for retirement in 2020, but the board of directors was able to refinance the debt in 2011 for the early pay-off and $370,000 in savings.
In replacement of the debt service levy, the MCFPD is asking voters for a 19-cent operations levy increase to hire additional firefighters. The board voted December 14 to place the proposal on the April 2018 election ballot. The district’s current levy of .3899, approved in August, would be bumped up to .5799 for 2018 if approved by voters.
“If approved, this will still be the lowest tax rate of fire districts with paid personnel in the Lake area,” Frandsen said. “With a call load of well over 2,000 this year, it’s become taxing on volunteers. Us, like all other fire districts, are finding it harder and harder to get volunteers. We’re going to have to have more paid personnel.”
According to the press release from Fire Chief Scott Frandsen, the additional firefighters are intended to staff MCFPD Station 2 in the Greenview area north of Camdenton.
“There was serious thought, research, discussion and consideration given to this issue. Based on the steadily increasing volume of emergency incidents, the Board of Directors felt it necessary to make this request,” stated Frandsen in the release. “With the proposed 19-cent levy, the Fire District residents will still be paying less than they were in 2016, while providing much needed additional firefighters. If the proposed 19-cent levy were to pass, MCFPD would still have one of the lowest fire district tax levies in the area.”
As of June 30, 2017, MCFPD had responded to 1,036 incidents, compared to 624 incidents over the same time period last year. Of the 412 additional incidents, 98 were in MCFPD’s response area, while the remaining 314 incidents were within city limits compared to 406 incidents in the City of Camdenton over the same time period in 2016.
The months of January, February and March were particularly busy for MCFPD, at one point averaging 8.2 calls a day in February, mostly related to brush fires.
District officials will be meeting with groups and citizens over the next few months educating them on the need for levy change. Anyone having questions are asked to call the MCFPD office at (573) 346-2049.
On the November 2016 ballot, the MCFPD previously sought a 25-cent operation levy increase to replace the debt service levy in full, but failed to gain enough votes to pass the issue.
The stated intent of that measure had been to help fund long-term apparatus replacement and station house refurbishing in addition to creating six additional firefighter position to staff the Greenview station.
A 2013 measure to increase the operation levy by 12 cents also failed.