We had to publish yet another story today about the squabble between the Mitchell Rural Fire Association and Davison County. The issue has dragged on so long and has become so convoluted that even people who’ve been following it from the beginning are having difficulty understanding it. Yet it’s vitally important, because it could affect people’s lives and property.
Here’s a primer to get you up to speed:
- For years, the Mitchell Rural Fire Association has paid the city of Mitchell to provide fire protection within the association’s area. That area includes parts or all of several townships just outside of the city.
- In recent years, the association’s finances fell into shambles. That became a big problem, because the grass rig that the city of Mitchell’s firefighters were operating on the association’s behalf had gotten old and needed replacement.
- The city demanded that the association buy a new grass rig. The association agreed to do so, but association members are having trouble raising the money for the rig and other expenses.
- The association believes that Davison County should pony up more money on behalf of the former Mitchell Township. The township was dissolved years ago, and now the county levies a tax in the township for fire protection. Fire association officials say the tax isn’t enough, and they’ve asked repeatedly for more money. County officials have persistently refused that request.
- Association officials are now exploring other options, including dropping their fire coverage of the former Mitchell Township, or trying to get the county to contract with the city to provide the former township with fire protection. Neither option looks promising at this point, according to the story in today’s Daily Republic.
At least that’s my understanding of the situation. If you followed all of that, congratulations. If you’re confused, you’re in good company.
There’s got to be a solution to this, and our locally elected officials need to figure it out. If taxpaying people cannot be assured of a government service so basic and necessary as fire protection, what does that say about our local governments?