In 1991, Gary Henrie and Jim Parks, with significant help from Bob Dalton, organized a committee to draft the fire district ballot initiative. There were roughly ten committee members from throughout the valley; Commissioner Parsons was on the committee. The committee studied the law books and conferred with Roger Hoopes, an attorney, before writing the ballot initiative. Concurrent with the committee’s efforts, the State of Idaho passed a law that made it possible for the district to tax on improved properties only. The fire district initiative was on the ballot in 1996, and it passed with 76% in favor.
How The District Runs
Three Fire Commissioners, one from each district, administers the Teton County Fire Protection District, which is the management and financial arm of the fire department. Duties are divided equally with one commissioner responsible for the personnel, one responsible for the equipment and one responsible for the financials. The commissioners hold monthly sessions to discuss executive matters and work meetings, which are open to the public, to review and discuss district operations and finances. At the work meetings, each commissioner reads and signs the budget claims, the monthly financial statements, and the previous meeting’s minutes prior to discussing old and new business.
The Fire District is funded from taxes that are collected on improved properties only, which means that no bare, unimproved land is taxed by the district. Commissioners draft a budget every July and hold a hearing in August to finalize it before submitting it to Teton County and ultimately the State of Idaho for approval.
As a result of the recent sizeable decrease in property values—and not an increase in the district’s budget—the mil levy has increased. Because the commissioners are cost conscience and understand the impact on local taxpayers if the district increases its budget, the commissioners did not increase its 2011/2012 budget. In fact, the district cut its budget by 14% in order to not raise the mil levy. After implementing several cost-saving measures, the district submitted its 2012/2013 budget for approval. The commissioners worked hard to keep the mil levy increase to a minimum.
Photos from the Past
All photos provided courtesy of the Teton Valley Museum
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