FAQ

We are here to help answers all your safety questions.

Q. Are the Ozark Fire Protection District boundaries the same as the City of Ozark?

A. No. The Ozark Fire Protection District covers approximately 110 square miles and is set up as an independent taxing authority, much like a school district. While our boundaries include the City of Ozark, we also cover parts of Nixa, Sparta, Highlandville, and portions of unincorporated Christian County. If you are unsure what District you reside in, you can e-mail us and we can look up your address.

Q. Why do I need a fire permit when I have a building permit?

A. State statutes assign the responsibility of fire protection to Fire Protection Districts. Therefore, Fire Protection Districts are responsible for adopting and enforcing Fire Codes. Fire Permits enable Fire Protection Districts to perform inspections that ensure your home and property comply with the adopted Fire Codes for fire and life-safety.

To help ensure the safety, health and welfare; and, in general, to secure safety to life and property from all hazard’s incident to the design, erection, repair, or use and occupancy of all buildings, structures or premises in the Ozark Fire Protection District, we have adopted Ordinance No. 2020-001 The Fire Prevention Code.

Unlike any building departments in our jurisdiction, the Ozark Fire Protection District requires all our Inspectors to be Missouri State Certified Fire Inspectors. This assures that we have the expertise to recognize potential fire hazards, and to help provide solutions to mitigate these hazards. Further, Ozark Fire Inspectors have expert knowledge regarding the principles of combustion and fire growth such as the combustion process – or how fireworks, phases of fire, heat transfer, flame spread, factors affecting fire growth, fire resistance in construction, fire loads, fire containment in buildings, elimination of ignition sources and many other fire related matters.

Q. Why does a fire truck come to my house when I call for an ambulance?

A. This question requires an explanation of the systems that are employed to provide emergency services.

When citizens of the Ozark Fire Protection District call to report an emergency, the call is routed to Christian County Emergency Services (911). This is the dispatch center used by all Christian County Fire Districts.

As the alarm is being dispatched, Christian County 911 dispatchers perform an interrogation of the caller. After the determination is made for the type of call (Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement or other) these calls MAY be sent to another dispatch center for an ambulance to respond. There are occasions when Christian County Ambulance District (CCAD), may not have the closest unit to your address. While Ozark Fire does not transport patients to the hospital, we can provide immediate care to stabilize a patient having a medical emergency.

Ozark Fire’s philosophy is to provide the tools and the talent to your emergency as quickly as possible.

Q. What is the actual ballot language that will appear when I go to vote on April 6?

A. Shall the Ozark Fire Protection District issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of Twelve Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($12,500,000) for the purpose of acquiring real property, constructing, renovating, improving, equipping and furnishing fire stations, a training center, and related facilities, purchasing, replacing or repairing vehicles, emergency rescue and medical equipment, fire protection and firefighting apparatus and auxiliary equipment, and refunding outstanding lease obligations of the District?

Q. How does a Bond work?

A. A municipal bond is essentially a loan. It is a way for governmental entities to borrow money and have that money paid back by property taxes. In this instance, it requires a vote of the people to ask for a revenue stream to support those repayment amounts.

The Ozark Fire Protection District is asking for a general obligation bond issue to be repaid through a property tax levy. If the proposition passes, the District expects to issue the initial bonds in June 2021. The tax would appear on the fall 2022 tax bill, which is due on December 31, 2022.

Municipal bonds are tax exempt, which helps in lowering interest rates on the borrowed amount. General obligation bonds issues need a 57.14% voter approval to be passed.

The longest term that can be asked for in a general obligation bond is 20 years; however, the District will be pursuing repayment in 12-15 years, thus keeping compounded interest as small as possible. Bonds are sold in increments of $5,000. Interest is paid semi-annually, and principal is repaid one time per year. Typically, March and September are interest repayment dates and March is the principal repayment date.

The state of Missouri limits a Fire District’s outstanding debt to 5% of the District’s total Assessed Valuation on a general obligation bond issue. The debt capacity of the Ozark Fire Protection District is $27,500,000. We are requesting $12,500,000.

The District estimates the bond would require a levy of $0.17 per $100.00 assessed value. For example, a home with an appraised value of $100,000 would have an assessed value of $19,000 (in accordance with Christian County assessment procedures). The resultant tax would equal $2.69 per month for this general obligation bond. Based on a debt service levy of $0.17, the math works out in such a way that $32.30 would be the cost per year for a home with an appraised value of $100,000 and an assessed value of $19,000.

Once bonds are approved, the process is typically 8-10 weeks before projects may commence.

Q. How is this different than a tax increase?

A. While taxes are used to repay the bond, including investor return, over a period, the tax used for this purpose has a defined end point. In this case, the District estimates the tax to repay this bond will end after 20 years. By statute, the District must end the debt service tax when the bond has been fully repaid.

Q. Can anyone buy the tax-free bonds that will fund this bond issue?

A. While the answer is yes, tax-free municipal bonds are very popular investment vehicles and they usually sell out quickly to investors and institutions that regularly make such investments. If you are interested in owning these bonds you should let your broker know to be on the lookout for them when they go on sale. And keep in mind that the District may issue a portion of the bonds now and another portion in the future. Your broker is your best source of information about this.

Q. Can the District use the bonds for anything it wants, including paying day-to-day expenses?

A. By statute, the bond proceeds may only be used for the express purposes stated in the ballot language. Bond proceeds are always used for capital purchases, meaning they can never go to pay worker wages, office expenses or other operational expenses.

Q. What will happen if the bond proposition does not pass?

A. Based on current funding projects, Fire Station #4 would not be built until the lease obligations of Fire Station #2 are fulfilled, resulting in a delay in a station that is located in the south portion of the District.  Additionally, we would remain at Fire Station #1 and not have the space to expand our staffing or apparatus.  We would continually address flooding issues and use operational funds to continue to repair and maintain and older facility.  We would not be able to purchase an aerial apparatus or training facility.  We would not be able to improve our Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating, or we could lose our current rating of a 4, which could cause an increase of insurance premiums to homeowners and businesses. 

Q. Who do I contact for more information?

A. Questions should be directed to Fire Chief Jarett Metheny at 417-581-4436 or jmetheny@ozarkfire.org. Chief Metheny can answer many questions and if needed, refer you to specific experts to answer your questions that pertain to Proposition Fire.

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