Due to low revenues collected from a limited amount of district residents paying their dues along with the necessity of upgrading equipment with other services, the Laddonia Rural Fire District knew it was time to change the way things are being done if it is to continue providing emergency services to the area.
A measure on the ballot next Tuesday is asking for voters to approve the possible incorporation of the fire district while levying a tax of not more than .30 cents on the $100 assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of the district.
The district was forced to do something after its 1974 International tanker truck blew an engine last year.
The district found itself with a shortage of funds to replace a vehicle it needed to fight fires.
The district had to take out a loan to purchase a 1984 tanker in order to continue servicing the area. The vehicle isn’t without its problems as it has gauges not working but fortunately for volunteers it does run and can hold water.
The funding problem involves the existing way the district establishes its funding. Currently, the district collects only $13,000 in dues annually as 22-percent of those living in the district do not cut their yearly checks for service.
Not only does the district not have enough funding to purchase newer equipment when needed, the low total of collected dues also makes it challenging to pay for training, fuel, and other expenses.
If passed, the initiative would give the district $27,000-$30,000 annually.
“If we double our income, we’ll have opportunities to do something,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Johnson. “We have a lot of country to protect.”
The district includes approximately 70 sections.
The district’s current fleet also includes a 1980 Pumper, a 1953 military Jeep with a bad clutch, and a 1990 ambulance medical unit.
The district features about 20 active volunteers, including nine qualified volunteer firefighters.
“To maintain the quality of firefighting that we have, we need to replace our equipment but the equipment costs are horrendous,” Johnson added.
Johnson did note that if the measure passes, district members will not get a dues letter in December. Instead, it will be an invitation for a meeting.
The district’s fire chief is Glenn Jensen, Jr.
Special Road district seeks renewal vote
Voters living inside the Laddonia Farber Special Road District will be asked next week to vote “Yes” or “No” to levy a continuing additional tax rate of .35 cents per $100 assessed valuation for a period of four years.
This initiative is not new for voters as it has been on the books for 16 years, meaning voters have already approved the rate multiple times in the past.
The funds generated from this measure allows the district to take care of approximately 64 miles of roads.
While the requested amount hasn’t increased, the expenses have in the district.
“Gravel costs $16,000 more than it did in 2009 for the same amount of tons,” said Jim Teague., who is a road commissioner alongside Jerry Johnson and Teddy Hoyt.
Teague added that the district is one of the few road districts that gravels every road in the district every year.
The district also replaces culverts, when needed, at a cost of $9,000-$11,000.
The district had $210,997 in expenses in 2013. Expenses include anything from salaries, equipment/truck expenses, grader repairs, contracted services, payroll, and more.
By law, the initiative is placed on the election ballot for voters to renew every four years.
The Laddonia Farber Special Road District has been serving the area since May 1917.