Council members to host forum to discuss territorial agreement for fire departments

Monday, August 25, 2008 | 6:16 p.m. CDT; updated 9:23 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 25, 2008

COLUMBIA — Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser and Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade will host a forum Tuesday on the city's territorial agreement with the Boone County Fire Protection District.

The purpose of the forum is to give residents information about the history, status and future of the agreement, according to a news release from Wade.

If you go

Fourth and Fifth Ward Fire Territorial Agreement Forum

6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Activities and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St.

Since 1994, the territorial agreement has determined which fire department — the Columbia Fire Department or the Fire Protection District — responds to fires or medical emergency calls in areas annexed by the city.

During the first of three meetings on the territorial agreement in November, City Manager Bill Watkins noted that the cost of calls responded to by the fire district inside city limits are substantially higher than those handled by the Fire Department.

Payments to the fire district are projected to exceed $1.5 million in 2013, according to a document presented to the City Council during its retreat in June. That figure compares to $550,732 in 2007 and a projected $703,448 for 2008.

How much the city pays the fire district is determined by the assessed value of the area covered by the fire district, which has risen from $652,490 to more than $93 million over the last 10 years.

In July, the city notified the fire district that it would not renew the agreement in its current form.

The city hasn't yet decided whether to renew the current agreement, draft a new one or operate without an agreement.

"All options are on the table," Wade said Monday. "From a budget standpoint, the cost of the agreement is extremely expensive."

Gale Blomenkamp, division chief for the Boone County Fire Protection District, said the fire district's theory is that "the closest unit responds" to emergency medical and fire calls in Columbia.

"The question that people will have to answer for themselves is, which would they rather have, the Columbia Fire Department or the Boone County Fire District as their first responder for emergency medical and fire calls," Wade said.


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