Rural fire district to keep pact with city
Members of the Mitchell Rural Fire Association voted to move one step closer to obtaining a new grass rig during a meeting Thursday night. The members approved a motion to pursue a $60,000 loan to purchase the new vehicle and thereby complete an ...
Members of the Mitchell Rural Fire Association voted to move one step closer to obtaining a new grass rig during a meeting Thursday night.
The members approved a motion to pursue a $60,000 loan to purchase the new vehicle and thereby complete an agreement with the city of Mitchell. The MRFA has a contract with the city for fire protection, and the city had informed the association that it must replace its existing rig by Dec. 31.
It has not yet been determined if the loan will be repaid over 10 or 15 years.
The group also heard from Jim Davies, an Alexandria attorney with previous experience in forming a rural fire protection district.
Both matters -- purchasing the rig and forming a state-recognized fire protection district --were discussed as a means to bring a state of stability to the association, which has found itself dramatically low on funds.
"We're basically broke," said board member Dean Strand.
If the association chooses to become a state-recognized fire protection district, it could levy taxes on residents within its boundaries, which would be a reliable annual fundraising source. At present, the association is funded by township boards and from a $500 fee charged to landowners whose property catches fire.
While no official motion was made on the matter of forming a fire district, the informal decision of the group was to form one with all or parts of seven townships around Mitchell in two years, leaving townships adequate time to prepare for the switch.
Because of financial concerns, members decided to postpone forming a fire district for 2010.
"If you're going to collect taxes through a fire district next year, the district needs to be organized, the board has to be operational and you have to have a budget done and approved by that board and to the county auditors ... by the first of October or you're not going to get any money in 2010," Davies said. "You don't really have a lot of time left to deal with this."
The townships can expect to pay around $8,000 overall in legal fees for the transition.
Once the transition is made, the fire district cannot ask townships for additional funding, an option that is currently open to the association.
To receive fire protection, the association pays the city of Mitchell an annual fee of $5,000. Association board member Dean Strand said Mayor Lou Sebert agreed on behalf of the city to accept half of the payment by Jan. 31 with the second payment due on July 1.