This August the Southwest Fire Protection District (SWFPD) is asking for your help. We are seeking a $0.25 tax increase. This tax increase does not come lightly. In short, it is needed to keep up with the rising cost of maintenance of vehicles, buildings, equipment, and fuel.
Our 152 square mile tax-based fire district was formed in the year 2000 with the incorporation of the Lower Prairie Hollow Fire Department. We are the second largest district in the county and operate with the lowest tax income.
The District currently operates 3 stations:
Station 1- 130 State Rd N- Constructed in 2008
Station 2- State Hwy 73-Built on land that is leased (for $0) through an agreement with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Station 3- 983 Laura Hufferd Rd- originally the Lower Prairie Hollow Fire Dept.
Presently, our district is operating with 10 volunteers who all have training in basic firefighting and emergency medical responder training (basic emergency medical care). Some of our volunteers have more advanced training. Our district is proud of our training and the fact all volunteers worked hard to complete all basic training during their first year of service. After basic training our volunteers continue to hone their fire and medical skills with a commitment to attend 2-hour training sessions each week. Many volunteers even take advantage of additional training opportunities with neighboring districts!
Since our district’s formation in 2000, there has not been a tax increase. The current tax rate is $0.2988 per $100 of assessed valuation. We are asking residents to increase the rate by $0.25 bringing the total tax rate to just under $0.55. This will allow us to keep up with the significantly rising cost of maintenance and equipment with the ultimate goal of keeping volunteers safe while providing optimal service to all district residents.
Here are a few FAQ’s our district has received:
Why can’t you just get grants?
Grants in the fire industry are very competitive because every single fire district applies for them. The fire service is made up of 80% volunteer districts who have the same problems that we face: low income and not enough volunteer help. While grants are a great supplement (and we will continue to apply), they are never a sure thing, are not consistent and often come with unrealistic stipulations.
Doesn’t the state give you a monthly payment?
No, the state does not give our fire district a monthly payment. We rely upon our local tax base to fund our district. The state does provide free training throughout the year through the Missouri University Fire Rescue Training Institute and our district routinely takes advantage of these classes.
Why can’t you just dissolve and have a neighboring district take over?
In order for the district to dissolve, a neighboring district would have to agree to take over all the territory and services SWFPD provides. In turn, it is not likely the neighboring district will be able to provide the immediate services our district currently provides. It is estimated the neighboring district’s response times would increase 10-15 minutes in areas closer to the neighboring district and be even greater in outlying areas. Your tax for the fire district would also increase to match their current tax rate and they could potentially ask for a tax increase because of the added coverage area.
What are you going to do with this added income?
- With this added income we will be able to keep up with the rising cost of maintenance on current equipment and buildings.
- Average price of fuel in 2000- $1.48 vs. 2018- $2.72
- Average number of calls 2000- 175 vs. 2018-244
- Average cost of Fire Truck 2000-$450,000 vs. 2018-$850,000
- Average cost of turnout gear 2000-$1,500 vs. 2018-$3,400
- We will be able to purchase equipment that will keep our firefighters safe when responding to calls and working.
- Turn out gear
- Wildland gear
- Training Equipment
- We will be implementing a 10-year plan to strategically place stations or water points in critical locations in the district. These will likely yield better insurance rates for the residents in those areas. Many residents who currently live near existing stations already enjoy reduced rates.
We recognize our District’s reputation in the county among other districts has not always been favorable. To promote a more positive reputation and strengthen partnerships we strive to collaborate whenever possible. For example, our district has become known for EMS training we provide for most of the districts in the county. In turn, our volunteers attend training provided by other districts. Our SWFPD EMS Program has the distinction of being one of the first online programs to become approved by the State of Missouri to provide initial emergency medical technical training.
What does this mean for your taxes?
The current rate is 0.2988
For a residential assessed property of $100,000 you pay approximately $47.50/year
For an agricultural assessed property of $100,000 you pay approximately $35.86/year
For a commercial assessed property of $100,000 you pay approximately $95.62/year