COLUMBIA — The Board of Directors of the Boone County Fire Protection District voted unanimously Wednesday to lower a property tax rate for the upcoming year. Some members of the board, however, said that an increase is to be expected in the future.
The fire tax rate is divided into three categories: general revenue, dispatch fund and fire bond. While the general revenue portion was increased, the board eliminated the fire bond. The dispatch fund rate remained the same.
The new property tax rate for the Fire District is 62.93 cents per every $100 of assessed value. That is a drop of 11.01 cents from last year.
This would translate to a drop of about $20 for an owner of a $100,000 house for the Fire District services. In 2008, the same person paid about $140.50 for the same services that now will cost about $120.
"Truly, the Fire Department gives the public a tremendous bargain for their service," board chairman David Griggs said.
The Fire District staff asked the board to eliminate the fire bond, saying it was not the right time to ask taxpayers for a bond.
"We thought it would be prudent to watch our pennies," Griggs said, adding that current economic conditions would increase the burden of taxes.
The Fire District, however, is in need of money.
"We will be looking for a bond issue," said board member John Gordon.
The Fire District has $345,000 budgeted for capital replacement this year. A new fire truck, which according to the staff costs about $322,000, would deplete most of the funds even with the insurance on the old truck.
A fire bond can be issued at anytime but must be approve by a public vote. Griggs said this will occur if the Fire District needs new equipment or the economy recovers.
The Board of Directors also approved a hiring schedule for the new fire chief. Of the 19 applications received from across the country, four will continue on in the process and have to complete mock exercises to test their knowledge and skills on Sept. 16.
The candidates will be interviewed the next morning in a public hearing conducted by nine panelists. That afternoon, the Board of Directors will hold closed-door interviews .