County considers Americus fire district

By Jesse Murphy
Emporia Gazette – May 29, 2015

Jesse Murphy/GazetteRon Redelfs and Bill Harmon spoke to Lyon County commissioners on Thursday about the possibility of forming an Americus Fire District. Photo by Jesse Murphy.

Jesse Murphy/GazetteRon Redelfs and Bill Harmon spoke to Lyon County commissioners on Thursday about the possibility of forming an Americus Fire District. Photo by Jesse Murphy.

Lyon County commissioners heard from Ron Redelfs and Bill Harmon with the Americus Fire Board on Thursday about the idea of having a fire district in Americus.
Currently, the service is provided through a mix of funding between the City of Americus and the Americus Township, an agreement that has been in place for 44 years.
“We feel we are basically a fire district,” Redelfs said. “We’re kind of unique in the way we’re set up.”
The reason for the meeting was to discuss some of the concerns and questions about the process.
Right now, the fire board is comprised of one member of the township, one from the city, two at-large positions and the fire chief. The board has full purchasing power for equipment.
Some of the issues Redelfs and Harmon were asking included how the funding would change and who would technically own the equipment.
“There would be a shift in valuation,” Commissioner Dan Slater said. “There would be one budget, and it would come through the county directly to the fire district instead of to the city or the township.
“Right now, the township sets a levy and the city sets a levy to raise ‘x’ amount of dollars, which is 50-50. It would be different in a new system.”
If both parties agree to form a district, the county commission would basically just sign off on the agreement. If one party does not want to merge, then 51 percent of the city and township population would have to sign a petition.
The county commission’s role in the district would be approving annual budgets, which would come with some reporting requirements and validation of insurance.
Commissioners gave Harmon and Redelfs direction to speak with the Americus city attorney to rework the bylaws, if forming a district is something both parties are interested in doing.
“Right now, you have two different entities overseeing two different entities, even though you work together,” County Attorney Marc Goodman said. “You’d have to rename it, but could work with the same organizational structure, probably.”



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