Proposed fire districts cross boundary lines

Thursday, June 22, 2006

As the Purdy Volunteer Fire Department and Monett Rural Fire Association go head-to-head in an effort to establish district property lines, several area fire departments are getting caught in the middle of the controversy.

"If the Purdy Fire District issue passes, they will take all of our members," said Floyd Wolf, Corsi Community Fire Department fire chief. "We would have to shut the doors on our operation."

The Corsi Fire Department covers an area from Highway W to Highway B, which includes around 100 members, said Wolf.

If passed, the proposed Purdy Fire Protection District will extend north to Highway BB, south to Highway HH and from Highway 97 to Highway C, taking a third of the Corsi Fire Department area.

"We're a small department and we don't have the money to fight the issue, but we are trying to tell people to check into all the facts before they vote to form a district," said Wolf.

Corsi Community Fire Department will also be affected by the proposed Butterfield Fire Protection District.

The Butterfield Fire Department's proposed district boundary lines will extend roughly from Highway HH, south to Farm Road 2140 and east to west from Farm Road 1045 to the Star City area.

Although the the Butterfield Fire District will continue to serve the same area, if the issue passes, tax-based support will take an additional third of the Corsi Community Fire Department.

As proposed, the Butterfield tax-based fire protection district will be funded by a 30-cent property tax, which means residents inside the Butterfield Fire District boundary lines will be charged 30 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The current membership system, which charges residents $40 inside the city limits and $45 in rural areas, will be terminated if the Butterfield Fire Protection District issue passes.

"We will see a big jump in the annual budget if this goes through, which will allow us to offer more to residents by updating our equipment more frequently," said Tommy Ray, Butterfield fire chief.

The fire protection tax will provide the Butterfield Fire Department with between $25,000 and $40,000 each year, said Ray.

Currently, the department operates on a much smaller annual budget, which is provided through membership dues and a portion of the city's general revenue funds.

"Our trucks are getting outdated," said Ray. "They run good but parts are getting hard to find. Right now, on our present budget, we cannot afford to buy anything newer."

The Butterfield Fire Department operates with four aging fire trucks. The oldest is a 1963 model and the newest a 1976 model.

If the Butterfield Fire Protection District issue passes, the department also plans to build a substation in the east section of its district to lower ISO ratings and insurance costs in that area, said Ray.

Residents served by the Butterfield Fire Department will decide the Butterfield Protection District issue on Aug. 8. The Purdy Fire Protection District proposal will also be decided by voters on Aug. 8.

The Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department could also be affected by the proposed Purdy Fire Protection District, Butterfield Fire Protection District and Monett Fire Association District boundary lines.

Wheaton Fire Department officials are currently researching boundary lines to find out how the proposed issues could affect the department.

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