Fire Districts - Ad Valorem - Title 19
Requirements of Fire Departments - Ad Valorem - Title 19
Title 19 Fire Departments are deemed a political subdivision of the state. Fire Districts are formed by the voters in a defined area requesting that an election be held to determine whether or not a fire district should be established. 19 OS 901.1—901.4
Title 19 Fire Departments are governed by a Board of Directors. The members of the Board must be surface owners of real property in and residents of the district. The Board is to consist of three members serving 6 year terms (staggered) who are elected by the residents of the Fire District. The Board may increase its members to 5 who would serve 5 year terms (staggered) by passing a resolution and calling for a special election to elect the 2 additional members who will serve until the next general election. Elections are to be held yearly. 19 OS 901.5
Elections: To call an election, the Board must send a notice of election to the Wagoner County Election Board Secretary 15 days prior to the filing period for the General Election. If there is no General Election, the election will be held the 2nd Tuesday in November. Elections are to be held yearly. Special elections may be called at the discretion of the Board and consistent with the requirements of the Election Board.
Filing for Office: Filing for office of member of the board of directors is with the County Election Board during the regular filing period for state and county offices in those years that a General Election is held. When a General Election is not scheduled, filing shall occur between 8:00 AM on the first Monday after Independence Day until 5 PM on the next succeeding Wednesday. There are no filing fees.
Vacancies: Vacancies on the Board are filled by the Board of Directors, the person to serve until the next regular election. In the event there is not a quorum of Board members available to appoint a board member or in the event the Board cannot agree on an appointment within 60 days, the County Commissioners shall appoint the member(s).
Chairman, clerk and treasurer: The Board will select a member for chairman from among themselves. The Clerk and the Treasurer are appointed by the Board. The Treasurer is to be bonded.
Funding: Title 19 Fire Departments are funded by a special assessment of ad valorem taxes, the rate of not more than 7 mills on the dollar to be determined by the Board of Directors. The Directors can levy between 7 and 10 mills on the dollar if approved by the voters in the district at an election.
Audits: If the Fire Protection District has revenues of $250,000 or more to its general fund during a fiscal year, an audit is required within 30 days of the close of each fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) by a CPA or a licensed public accountant. The audit is to be filed with the County Clerk and with the State Auditor and Inspector. 19 OS 901.27-901.28
Fire Protection District Budget: The Board is required to produce a financial plan for the budget year. A public hearing on the proposed budget is required. An affidavit and proof of publication shall be attached to the budget when filed with the County Clerk and the State Auditor and Inspector. The Fire Protection District Budget Act describes the requirements for the budget format, hearings, and adoption of the budget. 19 OS 901.31—901.50
Open Meeting Act: Fire Districts are subject to the Open Meeting Act. As a county public body, Fire Districts are required to give notice in writing by December 15 of each calendar year of their regularly scheduled meetings for the coming calendar year to the County Clerk. Any changes to the regularly scheduled meetings shall also be given to the County Clerk not less than ten (10) days prior to the implementation of the change. In addition, agendas for each meeting shall be posted/submitted to the County Clerk, at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.
Notice of Special Meetings (date, time, and place) is to be given in writing, by phone, or in person to the County Clerk and others who have requested notice at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. The agenda for such meeting must be posted/submitted 24 hours prior to the meeting.
Emergency meetings: Emergency meetings may be held without public notice as specified above; however, as much advance notice as is reasonable and possible under the circumstances should be given by person, telephone, or electronic means.
Minutes: Minutes of meetings are required to be kept and open to public inspection.
Open Records Act: Fire Districts are subject to the Open Records Act. The Open Records Act applies to all records maintained by the District including receipt and expenditure of any public funds. (Personnel records are exceptions.) Such records must be open for inspection, copying, or mechanical reproduction during regular business hours.
If the Fire District is open less than 30 hours of regular business per week, the District is required to post a notice at its principal office and with the County Clerk which designates the days of the week when records are available for inspection, copying or mechanical reproduction; sets forth the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the individual in charge of the records; and, describes in detail the procedures for obtaining access to the records at least two days of the week excluding Sunday.
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