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Issues:  Challenges of Forming a County-WIde RFPD
Issues: The Details
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TAXING DISTRICT FOR FIRE PROTECTION

Brochure 8 of 16 in Rural Fire Protection Brochure Series

June 12, 2008
by
Exploratory Committee

RFPD’s Are Taxing Districts

Delivery of Fire Protection Service by Rural Fire Protection Districts (RFPD's) Outside of city limits, RFPD’s are formed by voter approval to deliver structural fire protection service within a certain part of their county. Josephine County has four existing county RFPD(s) with taxing powers (ORS 478.410).

Applegate RFPD #9 (ISO Class 6/9,
Tax rate $2.53 per $1000)
 
Illinois Valley RFPD (ISO Class7/10,
Tax rate $2.38 per $1000)
 
Williams RFPD (ISO Class7/10,
Tax rate $1.06 per $1000)
 
Wolf Creek RFPD (ISO Class7/10,
Tax rate $2.98 per $1000)

Josephine County Fire Protection Committee Minutes of the January 23, 2008 FPC meeting provide the following recommendations:

FPC "Recommendations. A motion was made and seconded to work towards the November ballot, and the committee recommended the Board of Commissioners form a fire district with a governing board and no tax district at this time."

One County Wide Fire District Within a county-wide fire district the tax rate would be the same for all property owners while the economic value of fire protection to property owners would vary. The ratio of value of the land to buildings is different in rural areas. Many rural tax lots have no structures to protect or structures of low assessed value. Remote rural property tax lots are usually of larger size causing the ratio of the value of buildings to be rather small compared to the land value.

One County Wide Fire District?

Rural-urban areas that have more structures within their fire service area can allocate equipment and personnel costs across a greater number of real property structures than in remote rural areas. A county wide fire district would likely increase the tax rate more of property owners in urban areas who, in effect, would subsidize a large portion of the cost of fire service to remote rural locations. Urban areas would benefit from a local fire district that was not part of a county-wide fire district.

RFPD's serving property owners and citizens of a limited area within Josephine County may offer advantages that a large county wide fire district can not provide. The advantages are shorter travel distance, local RFPD district elected representative control, a tax rate or subscription cost based on local area fire protection costs (that would exclude other county areas), rural funding grants, equipment selection, fire suppression standards specific to the area and, the opportunity for volunteer service.

A county wide fire district is a conglomerate of smaller local fire district locations assembled under one administrator. Representation is taken away from localized areas. This takes away an incentive to support a local RFPD within your neighborhood. Central fire protection control is suited to cities with a few large fire departments strategically located on paved streets and driveways. It appears there is no economy of scale application for larger geographic areas. This is most likely the reason that no county in Oregon has a county-wide fire department working model. On average, each county in Oregon has over 21 fire departments.

No Tax District?

Property Taxes Fund RFPD All RFPD’s are taxing districts. Taxpayers/ property owners should be aware that their property tax would likely be increased if their property is within any newly created fire service district. All fire service districts are taxing districts. They can be created by voter approval, which is always required to impose a permanent tax rate per thousand dollar of assessed real property value, and to elect a board of directors to govern the district.

It’s A Levy ORS 476 could be used as the vehicle to implement a "no tax district". "ORS 476.330 Prevention and control of fires in zone 2; tax levy. (1) The county court or board of county commissioners of any county may prevent and control fire occurring within the limits of zone 2 in such county, and may for such purposes establish and maintain fire fighting and fire and fire control facilities and contract with existing fire control agencies, either individuals, associations, corporations, duties or rural fire protections districts. The State Fire Marshal...shall meet with and advise..."

ORS 476.330 (3) reads..."the court or board annually shall levy a tax upon the taxable property lying within zone 2 of the county, not to exceed one-fourth of one percent (0.0025) of the real market value of all taxable property within the zone computed in accordance with OR 308.207, for the purpose of furnishing such fire protection."   This is equal to a tax rate of $2.50 per $1,000 assessed property value.

Want more information? Contact a member of the Exploratory Committee.

RFPD Exploratory Committee’s Mission

Mission An independent Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD) Exploratory Committee (Exploratory Committee) to investigate the potential for forming a RFPD in the general Merlin-Hugo region was formed in the fall of 2007.

Big picture ideas for the exploratory effort include the following.

1. Identifying a range of boundaries for potential RFPD(s).

2. Identifying a range in level of services from potential RFPD(s).

3. Identifying a range of fees or assessments for services from potential RFPD(s).

4. Identifying revenues for services from potential RFPD(s).

The ultimate goal is a higher level of fire protection service for a lower cost.

The purpose of the Exploratory Committee is to gather information adequate enough to understand the rules/process to form a potential RFPD (i.e., rules, difficulty, pros and cons, levels of service, fees/ assessments, elections, etc.). This includes educational outreach efforts.

The Exploratory Committee’s purpose is limited to investigating and researching the potential (i.e., merits and liabilities) for forming a RFPD. Other potential actions will be considered and acted upon by other entities after the Exploratory Committee’s purpose has ended.

The contents of this brochure are expressions of the opinions and beliefs of those that contribute based on their thoughts and experiences and are not presented for any other purpose.

- Donations Are Not Tax Deductible -

Edited by Exploratory Committee

http://www.jeffnet.org/~hugo/existing1.htm

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2012 Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society