Citizens pushing for rural fire district

Sunday, November 11, 2018


Editor and rural Dawson County:

As some of you may be aware a bid to form a rural fire district within Dawson County failed earlier this year, however, there are a group of residents who are initiating another try at it. A five year contract between Dawson County and West Glendive Fire Department will run out July 1, 2019. This will end structural fire coverage for much of Dawson County that lies outside the city limits of West Glendive. Aside from being without fire coverage this would also affect my home insurance rates according to my agent. Personally, I have witnessed two structure fires within a mile of my house this past summer, and both were quickly and professionally handled by our West Glendive Firefighters.

I am certain that many of you are aware there was a very similar petition distributed earlier this year. I, myself, did not understand the importance of this petition until after it failed. If a fire district is not formed there are a few, very costly measures available to cover individual residences. There were also important regulations about the petition itself that were not immediately realized with the initial bid.

For instance, for a petition to count for a property, all owners on that deed must sign the petition and then that counts as one signature towards passage. Also, in addition to needing 40% of rural residents property owner signatures, 40% of assessed taxable value is needed. This means some of the larger companies within county will need to be contacted as well. We, as a committee, are willing to do some of the legwork to get the funding for our outstanding volunteer fire department.

Passage of a fire district basically provides dependable yearly funding that can only be used by the fire department servicing the rural area. This means all funds raised by the mills appropriated for the district area will be used for fire control, whether it be equipment, training, or actually costs associated with fighting fires. Personally, I paid a little over $8.00 for my fire control taxes this past year. With proposed increases of 4 mills for the rural fire district I would be paying approximately $24.00 next year for my entire year of fire protection. I understand that no one wants to pay more taxes, but from the research I have done this tax increase will make considerable savings in possible insurance increases without fire coverage.

There are petitions circulating through the community by neighbors, and a countryside mailing will be going out. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at 687-3474 or via messenger.

Thank you,

Mandy Hoffman

Dawson County