Formation of a fire protection district on Tuesday ballot

Monday, April 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Green Country volunteer fire department is tired of some people who get fire protection, not paying their annual dues. The Country Corner Fire department, which is east of Skiatook Lake, will ask voters on Tuesday to say yes to a permanent tax that would pay for fire services. KOTV's Donn Robertson says hundreds of Oklahoma towns and communities rely on volunteer fire departments.

The money to pay for the equipment mainly comes from property taxes. Turley's volunteers practiced containing a fire by burning down an abandoned house Sunday morning. About ten miles up the road, every Sunday, volunteers at the Country Corner fire department work on the trucks. Their headquarters are just west of Skiatook and Sperry in rural Osage County. Instead of property taxes, the department relies on fundraisers and dues from the 350 homes in their area.

On Tuesday, the department is asking voters to approve a proposal to collect money through property taxes because not everyone is paying their dues. Fire Chief Bob McIntyre, "We do a lot of scrounging." Most of the equipment used by the Country Corner volunteer fire department are donations. They take donated vehicles from the military and turn them into fire trucks. McIntyre says "we just got this in service." One of McIntyre's jobs Sunday was is to install a dome light in one of their rebuilt military trucks. McIntyre made the push to start the department four years ago after five of his neighbors lost their homes.

McIntyre thinks the people who won't pay the dues see them as a tax. "When you use the word tax, it scares a lot of people." The department is confident if their supporters turn out on Tuesday, they will approve a tax people can't avoid. Rates would drop for 85% the people, they also argue they need better protection for all the new homes popping up in the area. "We just have the faith that the people are behind us." They argue it's not asking a lot since a majority of Oklahomans pay taxes in order to protect their homes from fires.

The permanent tax would raise about $13,000 a year for the Country Corner fire department.