The Village of Ashland will be holding a second town hall meeting Monday on a proposal for the formation of an Ashland Fire Protection District.
The current Ashland Volunteer Fire Department is operated by the village and currently provides service to the village and rural areas in both Cass and Morgan counties. The formation of a fire protection district is currently on the ballot for the April 6th Consolidated election.
According to the Cass County Staa r Gazette, if the fire protection district is approved by voters, the district would encompass the current service area, be its own governing body with 3 trustees. Currently, the village is responsible for funding the volunteer department’s needs, but the village’s budget has no line item to allocate money to the fire department. According to the Star Gazette, the department does bill those who participate in a rural prescription service – which currently has only an 80% subscription rate.
The Star Gazette also reports that the volunteer department responds to approximately 200 calls annually and it currently receives and Insurance Service Organization rating of 5 on a 10 scale, which effects homeowners insurance rates.
Under the fire protection district proposal, the protection district would be factored as a line item into property tax bills, costing approximately $140 annually per household and the rural subscription service would be eliminated. The new tax would not be used to pay salaries for firefighters or personnel, but instead factor into equipment costs and gear. Personnel will remain volunteers.
If the village approves the fire protection district and rural areas do not, only the village will become the fire protection district. If the rural areas vote to become a fire protection district and the village does not, the village will automatically become part of the protection district. The three trustees would be appointed from the residents in the area that approve the district. The village would retain ownership of the fire protection building, but gear and vehicles would automatically become property of the district; according to the Star Gazette.
The fire department will present more information and answer further questions on details of the proposal in a second town hall meeting at 7PM Monday at Beard Implement Company in Prentice.