Rural Fire Authority voters asked to pass gap millage.

October 24, 2016

scottville_fire_reinberg_012216Rural Fire Authority voters asked to pass gap millage.

#MasonCountyElection

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

An error in the ballot language from the August primary has caused a gap in funding for the Mason County Rural Fire Authority. On Nov. 8, voters are being asked to approve a 1 mill renewal for one year. In 2018, the 1 mill renewal approved in August will then take effect.

“In August of this year voters overwhelmingly approved the renewal of the Authority’s operating millage for a period of 10 years,” said Chuck Keller, chairman of the fire authority. “After the election results were certified it was found that there was an error in the language contained on the August ballot.  The ballot stated that the 10 year renewal being voted on would be assessed beginning in 2017, which would have been collected in 2018.  The existing 10 year operating millage (which was being renewed on the August ballot) was last assessed in 2015 and collected in 2016. Because the new renewed millage would not be assessed until 2017 no fire operating millage would be assessed or collected in 2017 which would result in zero dollars in operating monies for the Authority.”

Keller said the tax money is used to purchase equipment, pay wages, insurance, utilities, truck maintenance, gas, and much more for the seven fire departments within the Authority. The Mason County Rural Fire Authority fire departments include Scottville Fire Department, Riverton Township Fire Department, Grant Township Fire Department, Free Soil/Meade Fire Department, Fountain Area Fire Department, Branch Township Fire Department, and Custer Fire Department. The authority’s tax dollars come from property owners in the City of Scottville, the villages of Custer, Fountain, and Free Soil, and the townships of Amber, Riverton, Summit, Eden, Custer, Sherman, Victory, Grant, Free Soil, Sheridan, Meade, Branch, and Eden. 

“We are not pointing the finger at any one person or group but as chairman of the Authority I should have found and corrected the ballot language,” Keller said. “The long and short of it is there was a mistake of one number.  A seven should have been a six; 2017 should have been 2016.  I hope the voters realize that is all that this was.  A simple one number mistake.  We need this proposal to be approved so that we can continue the high level of fire protection with our areas covered.  I thank each resident within our fire district for the continued support.”

The additional .5 mill that was approved by voters in August to pay for new equipment will take effect in 2016.

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