Wolf Creek will now become a fire protection district with St. Francois County voters approving the measure by 59.68% with 259 votes compared to 40.32% no votes. Ste. Genevieve County voters approved the question with 87 votes at 59.59% versus 59 votes opposed at 40.41%.
Wolf Creek Chief Bart Mabry spoke about the passing of the ballot measure.
“We appreciate the support by everybody and we plan on not letting them down," Mabry said. "We meant what we promised, and we’re going to get to work.
"The first thing to do is work with our legal counsel to get the district set up. We have to set all the policies and do the filing with the state to make sure the district is all legal."
He said the board will form. The new Wolf Creek Fire Protection District will have three directors: Ken Nash, Colin Rogers and Charles "Chuckie" Farr III. They appeared on the ballot unopposed.
"The first order of business that I am going to ask the association is to start looking for some property to acquire for stations," Mabry said. "I have been speaking to some of the board members and they are looking at financial institutions to get some options.”
One of the differences between a fire association and a district is that an association depends on the sales of fire tags for funding. A district collects taxes and has a board that is elected by the residents of the fire district.
Mabry said that the taxes may or may not cost an individual more than the current fire tag rate. The tax rate will be based on assessed value. The assessed value on a residential home in Missouri is 19% of real market value. A home that has a real market value of $50,000 would have a yearly tax of $28.50.
The main reason to go to district status is to receive better funding to improve fire protection for all of Wolf Creek’s residents. The association covers about 200 square miles spanning both St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties with the firehouse located on Old Jackson Road outside of Farmington. Mabry said that the first plan of action is to build satellite stations. Having these stations can help reduce the ISO ratings, which can reduce insurance premiums.
“ISO ratings are pretty big, but what’s a bigger benefit to people is a firehouse closer,” he said. “Because no matter what your ISO rating is, if you’re more than five miles from us, it doesn’t matter. First we have to get a hub somewhere closer to the people. It changes the game. It lets them get the benefits of the ISO rating.
"Way more than half of our people are way more than five miles from our firehouse. There’s no way to build and maintain a satellite station under our current income. We’re comfortable and able to provide a good service right now, but we have no room to expand or grow or to improve.
“What we’ve looked at is probably in the first 10 years, two and eventually three stations. If you take our area and draw a five mile radius, three will get 90% of it. Two will get 75% of it. The biggest bang for our buck would be the Libertyville area and the Coffman area.”
With better funding, Mabry says that they can also eventually update some of the equipment.
“Everybody’s got older stuff, we probably have some of the oldest equipment in the county,” he said. “We have good stuff, but we can’t buy new equipment. A lot of departments are getting new trucks, we can’t even consider that.”
Assistant Fire Chief Steve Young mentioned the cost of some of the equipment. “We’re spending around $3,000 or more on just a set of gear for somebody. That’s not including a $6,000 airpack you are putting on them.”
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at email@example.com