County board moves ahead with getting fire plan on ballot
The Polk County Board of Commissioners will vote whether or not to place a 20-year fire plan on the November ballot during its regular meeting on August 5.
The projected total mill rate to support these operations is 8.850, which equates to $354 per year for a property valued at $100,000.
The 20-year plan was debated during a lengthy work session on Monday, July 21.
The fire plan calls for reducing the number of stations from seven to nine and to relocate each, excluding Lake Creek, to achieve greater coverage within the unincorporated areas of Polk.
Chairman Marshelle Thaxton questioned tentative locations of Prior Station, Collard Valley, Hills Creek, Johnson Lake, Morgan Valley and Vinson Mountain.
He is concerned about the distance volunteers would have to travel from some of the stations for adequate fire coverage.
“We can always change a proposed location,” Manager Matt Denton said. “This is only a proposal on paper.”
Initially, six new stations will be constructed during the first phase of the plan. In year three, two firemen would be added to stations two, four, five and seven on a 24/7 basis with three shifts operating at each site. Additionally, three battalion chiefs will be added.
During the second phase, two firemen will be added to stations, one, three and six giving those sites the same coverage as other stations. These would operate three shifts per week with two paid firefighters per shift. The total number of paid staff would be 46.
In years 11 to 15, the total number would be 67 or three paid firefighters at each station.
During phase four (16 to 20 years), each site would be staffed by four paid firefighters for a countywide total of 88.
Commissioners have indicated that volunteers will remain active during the conversion to a paid department.
Manager Matt Denton, right, presents facts on 20-year fire plan to Chairman Marshelle Thaxton and other Polk commissioners during recent work session.