Volunteer firefighters in two area towns are trying to get enough signatures to place a levy on the April ballot, which will form a fire protection district.
“Stark City and Fairview (volunteer fire departments) are going to go together and we want to create a Midway Fire Protection District,” said Delmar Hunke, chairman of the search committee for the potential Midway Fire Protection District. “It will basically cover the area that Stark City Volunteer Fire Department and Fairview Volunteer Fire Department now cover. We are bordered on the east by Wheaton Fire Protection District, Pierce City runs a little bit east and north of us, then Granby and East Newton (fire) runs to the north and west of it, and the south side of our district would be bordered by Stella, it is volunteer, it is not an organized district at this time.”
The fire departments have been circulating petitions around the Stark City and Fairview departments to get enough signatures to put a 30-cent levy and a board election on the ballot.
“That would be the maximum that it could be and it could be set under that of the discretion of the board,” Hunke said. “It cannot beyond 30 cents.”
Hunke said there would be a five-member board that would govern it and anyone that wants to run on the board can get their petition for their name to be on the ballot.
“And the top five people will be on the board,” he said. “It will be one district, but we will still keep of the fire departments as they are now.”
Thus far, Hunke said the response from the residents has been good.
“We need a minimum of 100 (signatures), we are over that already,” he said.
Next week, they will get the signatures all together and present it to the judge.
“The judge has to rule it to be on the ballot,” he said.
Hunke said that the issue has been in discussion about a year and a half.
“Over a year ago this past March, we talked about it a little bit, some of the firemen were talking about this at the Stark City Volunteer (Department) fundraiser,” he said. “That it has kind of been kicked around and decide what we are going to do. Stark City, especially, was just so close of being completely out of money all of the time. It just couldn’t go on the way that it was, we would wind up with nothing or we would be part of another district, and then you would lose all of your local influence what you want to do.”
Referring to why they have opted to form this district, Hunke said, “At the present time, you have volunteer firemen. The volunteer firemen not only have to volunteer to fight fires, keep up the equipment, training and all of this, they also wound up volunteering to raise money so they can continue volunteering to fight fires. There is about $12,000 budget for Stark City and Fairview both, ($12,000 for Stark City and $12,000 for Fairview) just to cover insurance, gasoline and general maintenance.”
Hunke said these are “bare bones” budgets. Stark City currently raises all of its funds through donations, Fairview sells subscriptions to be a member of the district and takes donations as well.
“It served the purpose well, but we have just come to where we need to do a better job and if we pass where we can get a district, then we can put a tax levy on the property that is in the district and everybody can kind of pay their share that way,” he said. “Hopefully we would raise a little extra money, where we could improve the districts and get a better fire rating where everybody will also have to pay less for their fire insurance.”