Fire levy on Nov. 4 ballot

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

In addition to choosing town council members during the Nov. 4 general election, South Prairie residents will also decide a fire levy.

Residents will vote on a fire service levy, which would increase their city property taxes by 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to pay for fire services. In order to pay the rate set by District 20 ($1.30 per $1,000), the town is asking its citizens to approve the 75 cents per $1,000 valuation; the rest of the cost will be picked up by the town.

If the measure passes, South Prairie property owners would be paying about $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value to the town in property taxes - $1.75 for regular property taxes, plus 75 cents for fire services.

If the Nov. 4 measure passes, the town and Fire District 20 will draw up a contract for 2004, where the district pays the town $12,000 a year in rent, with the town paying for a third of the utilities and $1.30 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

South Prairie Town Councilman Tony Caldwell, who has been involved in the negotiations, said many citizens have wondered why the town just doesn't give the fire district what it wants. The town simply cannot to do it, he said, without the levy passing.

"You know it's not that I'm against the fire department," Caldwell said, adding his brother-in-law (Mayor Layne Ross) is the assistant fire chief. "I cannot spend 10 dollars, when I only have five."

If the tax measure fails, the town is back to the drawing board, figuring out what it is going to do about fire services.

Jessica Keller can be reached at

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