May 19, 2011
LINCOLN COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
Tommy Rowe, Chair
#1-CALL TO ORDER/ROLL CALL
Chairman Tommy Rowe called the meeting to order at 10:18.
|Tommy Rowe, Chair (via telephone)
Ed Higbee, Vice Chair (via telephone)
Paul Matthews (via telephone)
Lisa Lloyd, Clerk
There is a quorum and the agenda was posted on 5-11-11 to comply with the open meeting law.
Dan McArthur presented the budget. There was a change in the total property taxes received; it decreased by nearly $5,000. In order to balance the budget, services/supplies were decreased by this amount. Ending fund balance is $. Tommy called for public comment. Doug Carriger commented that the unexpected revenue increases were detrimental to the property owners. The private property owners haven’t benefited one bit from this district. The entire idea of forming this district was that the visiting fire districts would take care of the fires and the revenue generated would be used to help defray costs, not purchase equipment and make a governmental agency. Doug asked that the tax rate be scaled back to fund other county functions. Dan responded that making an adjustment to the current tax rate, .25, to get to the level of $100,000 versus the $200,000 that has been coming in will require the rate to be cut in half. The Board can choose to cut that rate today or prior to June 1. Paul M. responded that this is a budding agency and the apparatus that has been purchased has been done so with correspondence about the needs of the other districts. The water tender will provide more gallons of water to the needed areas. The goal isn’t to create a mega agency, rather to provide adequate service to the rural areas. The revenues are higher than projected, so Paul M. doesn’t mind making a change on that in the future if the goals can be met with a reduced revenue stream. Rick agreed with Paul M. The overall objective of forming the district is to provide a service to people in the outlying areas. The existing fire districts, in responding to these areas, have increased costs to provide partial coverage; their budgets are also decreasing. It was the goal of LCFD to provide equipment to enhance the other districts’ responses as well as to create a fund to reimburse them for the expenses they are accruing. Rick has a goal to increase the coverage capabilities in these remote areas, but it will take several years to get it organized. The only equipment purchased to date is the water tender; there isn’t one in any of the other departments of the county. The remaining equipment was either purchased through a grant or donated. The district isn’t overspending to purchase equipment; they are working through a plan to provide service to the citizens. Doug responded that the fire operations for PVFD receive less than $50,000 per year and they respond everywhere on that side of the county; they provide this service for less than $50,000 per year. Doug doesn’t feel it is right for LCFD to generate $200,000 per year and not provide one bit of service to individuals. Doug feels the tax money can be better spent by providing direct services for those outside of their district. Doug doesn’t believe PVFD has ever received a dollar for the responses they’ve made. Rick commented that there is a mutual aid agreement with PVFD; he has made multiple offers to reimburse them, but they have been rejected. Rick has met with all of the fire departments/and chiefs; they are all aware that they are able to be reimbursed for incidents outside of their district. To date, nothing has been received from PVFD; Rick has contacted the secretary and fire chief on multiple occasions but received no response. The offer remains. Rick has spoken with Lonny Walch multiple times and they have a tentative plan for how they’d like to proceed in that area. Wendy Rudder commented that the reason PVFD offered to pay for a run was due to the fact that it was an ambulance run. There are multiple ambulance runs that they don’t get paid for, but they continue to go outside of their district. PVFD continues to spend a great deal of money responding to incidents outside their district; most of the calls are ambulance and they need to address how this can be reimbursed. Rick responded that he has worked to bring it to the Board’s attention to include ambulance calls in with fire response. Rick has been unable to find documentation that requires fire to respond with ambulance. Rick continues to work on this and feels that resolution will be reached, that this is something that will be included and reimbursed. Paul D. commented that if the budget is reduced then the reimbursement policy will be reduced. If the budget is left at $200,000 it is easier to reimburse, if it is cut, the Board will have to be more careful on what can be reimbursed. Paul D. believes the reason that the fire trucks started responding to vehicle incidents is because they could get money from the insurance; a habit has now been created. Paul D. feels that if we are going to take care of the citizens, then it needs to be understood that the reimbursement will be decreased. Ed asked if this has been put to a vote of the people. No. Tommy agreed that if we are making $100,000 more than necessary and property owners aren’t being reimbursed, then maybe the rate should be reduced. Tommy suggested that the rate be decreased to provide $130,000 revenue to the district. Paul M. commented that we aren’t agendized to vote on the tax rate. Sheriff Kerry Lee stated that Rick has worked with all of the districts; the fire chiefs provided a rate scale that was very reasonable. This scale was for equipment reimbursement only. Kerry doesn’t recall that the Board acted on those rates. Until the Board acts on the rates there is a question as to how the billing can occur. Ambulances weren’t addressed in the reimbursement discussions; Kerry feels this should be discussed and an agreement made. PVFD doesn’t want to spend a great deal of time on billing. Kerry suggested that the Board approve the billing rate and streamline things for submission of the bills. Kerry agrees that where fire rolls with ambulance on a regular medical call it is unnecessary. On a vehicle accident, fire still needs to roll. Paul D. advised that he isn’t comfortable with voting on this budget. Doug commented that a good deal of the revenue for this district will be eliminated when Toquop is annexed into Mesquite. Doug asked if the taxes will then be doubled to provide enough revenue to run the district. Paul D. agreed that he would like to see this budget cut. Dan advised that research needs to be done prior to cutting the tax rate; there is an agreement with the state but it is unknown if the agreement will allow for the rate to be decreased. Paul D. made a motion to deny the budget as presented, reset this for 5-31 at 4:00 p.m., and to look at the required rates; seconded by Paul M. All voted in favor.
#3- PUBLIC COMMENT
Tommy called for public comment. None offered.
There being no further business for the Board to attend, Tommy adjourned the meeting at 10:47.