Special to Iredell Free News

All property owners in Iredell County received a notice regarding the proposed All-County Fire Protection Service District and a public hearing to be held at 7 p.m. on January 21, 2020. County officials provided the following information in response to frequently asked questions:

Q: What is a Fire Protection Service District?

A: The Fire Protection Service District is a service tax district created to finance fire protection to the residents of Iredell County outside the Town of Mooresville and the City of Statesville.

Q: What areas are included in the Fire Protection Service District?
A: All areas of unincorporated Iredell County as well as the Towns of Harmony, Love Valley, and Troutman.

Q: Will my taxes go up?
A: Not for a majority of residents. The tax rate in the existing countywide service district is $0.09 and this rate is proposed to stay the same in the new Fire Protection Service District. Increases up to the current County Wide District rate of $.09 will be seen in the existing four Rural Fire Protection Districts of Mount Mourne (currently $0.07), Shepherds (currently $0.07), Stony Point (currently $0.07), and Troutman (currently $0.075). If you live in Mount Mourne, Shepherds, or Stony Point, a $200,000 home would see an increase of $40/year. If you live in the Troutman response area, a $200,000 home would see an increase of $30/year. 

Q: How is the money collected in the Fire Protection District distributed to the individual contracting fire departments?
A: The fire departments that serve Iredell County submit budget requests to the director of Fire Services and Emergency Management. The director’s recommended appropriations are forwarded to the Fire Tax Oversight Committee and to county management to be included in the county’s annual budget package. The Fire Tax Oversight Committee reviews the director’s recommendations and makes its own recommendations to the county commissioners based on an agreed upon formula that considers service area, population, valuation, and other factors. The Board of Commissioners makes the final decision on appropriations.

Q: When will the Fire Protection Service District go into effect?
A: The new Fire Protection Service District will go into effect July 1, 2020, pending Board of Commissioners approval.

Q: What will happen to the existing County Fire Service District and Rural Fire Protection Districts?
A: The existing Countywide Fire Service District and the four Rural Fire Protection Districts will remain in existence and those tax rates will be set to zero.

Q: Will the Fire Protection Service District add another layer of taxation to my property values?
A: No. The Fire Protection Service District will replace the current fire tax currently displayed on your tax bill.

Q: How will the Fire Protection Service District impact the fire departments in the county and their volunteers?
A: The Fire Protection Service District allows for the funding of separate accounts at the county level that will pay for apparatus replacement, equipment replacement (such as turnout gear, air packs, hose, etc.) and communications equipment. Currently, the volunteer fire departments are responsible for these costs. Moving these costs to other accounts will allow the fire departments to focus on operations and staffing.

Q: Will I receive service from the same fire department?
A: Yes. The Fire Protection Service District will not alter response boundaries but may in the future. The intent is to ensure that all properties in Iredell County are covered by the closest appropriate resource.

Q: How can I help my local volunteer fire department?
A: With the rising cost of providing service and the lack of available personnel, the best way to help a volunteer fire department is to become an active member. You can contact your fire department directly for an application.

Q: Why did I receive more than one notice?
A: Notices were mailed to every property owner within the County outside the city limits of Mooresville and Statesville as required by North Carolina General Statute 153A-302 (c). If you own more than one parcel, you likely received a notice for each parcel you own, which is required by law.