What will fiscal court do to expand fire territory?

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Our Views

  Through the good graces of the man above and the cooperation shown by surrounding areas, fire tragedies are not common even in parts of Bullitt County that are not officially covered within any fire protection district.

A movement has resurfaced to form another special fire protection district. Even as state auditor Adam Edelen is trying to get a handle on the thousands of special districts in Kentucky, another could be formed.

“Technically” the Lebanon Junction Fire Protection District was formed in 1982. However, it only included a portion of Wilson Creek Road and there was never a tax rate set up or a board to govern the several hundred feet of territory.

When fires broke out in areas like Mount Carmel Road, Wilson Creek Road or Belmont Road, the Lebanon Junction City Fire Department has been the first to normally get the dispatch call. This “no man’s land” falls between Lebanon Junction and territory covered by the Pine Creek Fire Protection District, more commonly known as Southeast Bullitt Fire District.

With concerns that changes in how ISO ratings are handed out, there is a fear that those not in either the city or the Southeast Bullitt territory may see a big change in their property insurance rates due to the classification of fire protection.

The thought is to expand the 1982 boundaries to include all of “no man’s land.” While there will be a fire tax imposed, that would possibly be less than the cost of higher insurance premiums.

The matter has been tossed into the laps of fiscal court members. Either way, there will be criticism to be tossed out.

The court members could simply amend the 1982 ordinance with new boundaries. Or they could force those interested in the new fire district to generate a petition and secure signatures of 25 percent of the registered voters. Unless 51 percent of the people in the territory protest, fiscal court has no option but to approve the petition.

In either case, court members will be seen as creating a new tax. But if they don’t, the risk to public safety could be increased tremendously.

The Lebanon Junction city fire department, one of only two in the county which is funded through the municipality’s general fund, has been working on a shoestring for years. It is remarkable that given the funds available, the department has been able to survive. It has and that is a credit to the members of the department.

While it was set up years ago to levy a fee if the department leaves the city limits to fight a fire, any revenue would not be able to recoup the expense incurred if a piece of equipment was damaged. The city taxpayers should have some concern there.

The ideal situation would be for an existing tax district to take over the territory but that must be a business decision that agency’s board would have to make. It is not cheap to be in the fire protection business.

Fiscal court members must take a long look at this situation. There is no guarantee that the Lebanon Junction city council would one day say that it’s equipment would not leave the corporate boundaries. 

Where would those residents of “no man’s land” be at that point?

It is a difficult situation where dollars and cents must be weighed with the cost of human life. This is certainly not a decision to be made quickly.

In the perfect world, Bullitt County would have a single fire protection agency. But we don’t live in a perfect world.