Nixa Fire District Unanswered Questions
What are plans to keep our fire rating as good as it is?
Without a question the greatest challenge for the Fire District is to achieve the staffing and station distribution requirements that come with additional growth.
The Fire District generates revenue only from local property and personal property taxes. There are no ongoing additional sources of State or Federal funding and we do not charge for any services we provide. In addition, we do not have any impact fees for new construction, we do not charge for any permits, and we do not issue any fines or tickets. We do have the ability to submit proposals for two federal grants, however they are limited in scope and are competitive grants with every fire department in the nation being eligible to submit proposals.
The key to continuing our track record of not only maintaining, but improving our fire rating is to strategically plan for the required growth and to ensure we maintain a strong fiscal balance in reserve, general, and capital improvement funds. We currently have a General Obligations Bond that was approved in 2015. We will need the community to continue to support that funding in the future whether that be authorizing a new Bond Levy when the current one is retired or extending our bonding capacity on the current bond. In both of these possible scenarios the Bond levy rate would remain the same and result in no change to the tax rate.
However, this revenue source can only be used for capital items such as new stations and apparatus. The required fire station distribution to maintain or improve our fire rating is based primarily on total road miles and the location of fire stations in relation to those road miles. In simpler terms the more road miles added (subdivisions), the more stations required.
Personnel is by far our greatest investment and expense. While new construction and growth do increase our general levy revenue, new construction additionally brings increased demand for services. We practice controlled growth when planning for new firefighter positions.
This is one area that we can get assistance if we are able to secure competitive grants. We anticipate that we would need to add at least three additional positions by the 2020 to 2021 fiscal years to maintain our ability to meet the community’s emergency service’s needs. By forecasting the future need and preparing for that growth we determined that we could bring those positions on as soon as the end of fiscal year 2018 if we were able to secure federal grant funding. We were awarded grant funding to make those new hires. We believe the key is to stay ahead of the issue and strategically plan how we can meet those needs within the confines of our revenue. We will continue to seek those federal grants as our strategic plan guides us.
Certainly growth in the commercial and retail development of our community will go a long way towards improving our balance of service demands and growth revenue. Without some future balancing of residential vs. commercial growth the service demands has the potential to outpace our revenue growth and our ability to maintain or improve on our fire rating. By practicing strategic planning and controlled growth we believe there is time to address these issues and forecast when they may have a future impact on our Fire District.