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Hearing date set for fire district
New district would include Hoisington, surrounding area
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Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Passed a resolution setting May 14 as the public hearing date for the formation of a second fire district in the county. This would include Hoisington.

• Recognized Barton County 911 Supervisor Donna Williams on her retirement.

• Recognized Christina Doyle from the Appraiser’s Office upon receiving the Employees Recognition Award.

• Heard a report on the Golden Belt Humane Society.

• Approved sponsoring the annual Barton County JobFest at $500. JobFest is planned for 3-6 p.m. Thursday, April 19 at the Great Bend Event Center, 3111 10th, fest committee member Karen Neuforth said.

• Approved a bid from Venture Corporation for the 2018 cold-mix asphalt in the amount of $7.83 per ton. The bid specified approximately 25,000 tons of cold mix asphalt material, with the county furnishing all aggregate and asphalt oil. Using County specifications, the contractor will be required to mix asphalt at the county pit on South Washington in Great Bend, said County Engineer Barry McManaman. This was the only bid. 

This is a .40 cent increase from 2017, he said. The cost had remained constant since 2015. 

 The County Commission Monday morning approved a resolution setting a public hearing on the creation of a second fire district in Barton County. The proceeding will take place at 9 a.m. Monday, May 14, in the commission chambers.

It has been proposed that the county join in the creation a new fire district consisting of Albion, Eureka, North Homestead, South Homestead and Union townships, and the cities of Hoisington, Olmitz and Susank, Operations Director Phil Hathcock said. The only other fire district in the county covers Claflin and the surrounding area. 

“This has been on our plate for over a year,” Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. In that time, it has led to a lot of discussion.

“The people in that area are very much in favor of this,” she said. “It is in our best interest to support it.”

This approval of this resolution is only the first step in the process, Hathcock said. Next, the resolution will be published three times in the Great Bend Tribune, followed by a 10-day waiting/comment period.

Should there be no resistance, Hathcock said the commission will then pass a second resolution forming the fire district. In the meantime, each of the communities included must pass a single resolution opting into the district.

It is anticipated that the fire district would be governed by a board of trustees, as appointed by the County Commission. This will likely include a representative from each of the townships and cities involved.

Hathcock said the district would be funded by a tax levy made upon all the taxable tangible property of the proposed district not to exceed nine mills.

The status quo  

The fire district was a topic of a meeting last February at the Hoisington Fire Department that included fire chiefs from the impacted area. Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell and Hoisington Fire Chief Jerry Stricker, who spoke then, have advocated for this change since.

According to information presented at that meeting, the Hoisington Fire Department now falls under City of Hoisington. The city provides most of the funding but, in addition, the department also has five-year contracts to serve Albion, Eureka, North Homestead, South Homestead and Union townships covering over 150 square miles.

In a district, the department would no longer be a part of the city. Instead, it would be a function of the district which would be a stand-alone taxing entity within the county budget.

Claflin has been a part of Claflin Fire District Number One since 1956, and it encompasses the far northeastern corner of Barton County. It takes in Beaver, Cleveland, Independent, Cheyenne (and Cheyenne Bottoms) and Logan townships, and also the communities of Beaver, Hitschmann, Odin and Redwing.

The County Commission serves as the board for District Number One.

In the cases of the other communities that are not a part of a district, such as Ellinwood and Great Bend, they contract with the townships.