The proposed Mid Valley Fire District will be on the ballot in the Nov. 3 General Election and Thayne Fire Chief Toby Merritt emphasizes the need to support the measure as the population and traffic increases in Star Valley.
Under the proposal, the district will cover the areas associated with the Star Valley Narrows, Bedford, Turnerville, Etna and Freedom.
Thayne and Star Valley Ranch will be exempt as the towns already pay for fire coverage as an incorporated municipalities.
The Thayne Fire Department responds to structure fires and traffic accidents in and around all of these areas.
“We are trying to secure our funding,” Merritt explained. “The county budget is going down so that makes our budget to go down.”
He advised, “We’re just trying to secure the money so we can keep doing what we have been doing for years.”
Addressing the costs associated with the proposed district, Merritt explained the process. “You take your appraised value and times it by 9.5 percent and times that by the mill levy, whether it be one, two or three and then divide it by a 1,000.”
Merritt continued, “I took a $300,000 house that was appraised and did the formula and it comes out to $85.50 a year — that’s what your taxes would go up.”
Merritt noted that all funds will stay within the district. “It stays on your property tax and it stays with the district,” he said. “This doesn’t go to a general fund, the school or the hospital. It stays with the Mid Valley Fire District just for our funding.”
The fire chief pointed to the increasing costs of fire fighting equipment, including the gear and the trucks to fight fires and respond to traffic accidents.
“The biggest reason — the cost of equipment goes up every year,” he pointed out. “We have an $80,000 a year budget and it costs about $20,000 a year just to equip one fireman.”
He added, “If we get a new fireman there is a third of our budget right there.”
Pointing to the rising costs of fire trucks, Merritt referred to the cost of a pickup truck. “We used to buy a pickup for $50,000 and now they are $75,000 to $80,000 and it’s the same is thing with the fire truck,” Merritt said. “Equipment prices just keep going up.”
Chief Merritt concluded, “We just need to have this fire district to keep giving fire protection to these outlying towns. This is a big deal for fire coverage [in this area] and extrication with all of the traffic going up, its a must. We have to have it.”
If you have questions regarding the Mid Valley Fire District, please call Thayne Fire Chief Toby Merritt at 307-880-FIRE, (3473).