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Central Polk County Fire again seeks levy increase


A local volunteer fire protection district is again asking voters to increase its tax levy after the ballot measure failed in the last municipal election with a tie vote. 

According to Polk County Clerk Rachel Lightfoot, the Central Polk County Fire Protection District is asking voters to approve an additional 30 cents per $100 assessed valuation to the district’s current tax levy. 

The district’s current tax levy, about 30 cents per $100 assessed valuation, was set in 2013, per previous coverage. 

Lightfoot said this is the only issue on the Tuesday, Nov. 2, ballot for Polk County. 

Because there’s only one election issue for the county, Lightfoot said her office will consolidate down to one polling place at the Polk County Courthouse on election day.

Central Polk County Fire asked voters to approve the same ballot issue in the April municipal election earlier this year. 

According to the official results, 97 voted for the tax and 97 voted against. Former Polk County Clerk Bobbi Lear previously told the BH-FP the tie meant the measure failed. 

The district did not pursue a recount of the votes from the April election, per previous coverage. 

Fire district board chairman Sammy Bowden told the BH-FP in April the district’s board discussed doing more to educate voters and then seeking to put the item on the ballot in the next countywide election. 

Bowden previously told the BH-FP board members voted to place the question on the ballot because additional funding is needed to cover the cost of the district’s growing needs due to the county’s increasing population and the district’s incorporation of the Polk Rural Fire Department in 2018. 

“We have outgrown our tax,” he previously said. “We felt at this point we need to upgrade the tax. The equipment is getting more expensive. The standards continue to get higher, and we’ve grown in area.”

Bowden said the additional funding would have helped the district purchase upgraded and newer equipment, pay for upkeep on its current equipment and eventually hire personnel “for at least daytime service, if not 24-hour service.”

He previously explained the importance of paying personnel for daytime service. 

“That’s one of the bigger things we were looking for is, sooner than later, putting a staff member on shift during the day,” he said. “It’s hard to find manpower during the day because our volunteers work other jobs.”

Bowden said, preferably, at least two firefighters would be on shift and ready to respond. 

Newer equipment also remains a priority, he said. The district’s ladder truck is 25 to 30 years old, and they’ve had trouble finding parts for it. 

“We’d really just love to have people come to our public board meetings, so they can ask us questions about why this funding is important,” Bowden said. 

Board meetings are 6:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the CPCFPD station at 1039 Rt. B, just off Mo. 83 north of Bolivar.