DeSoto City Council discusses possible legal action against county for fire district
DeSoto City Council members Thursday will discuss the possibility of taking legal action against the county for its decision not to release parts of Rural Fire District No. 3 which have been annexed into the city of DeSoto.
The Johnson County Commissioners last week denied the city's request that it be allowed to provide fire protection to an area in the rural fire district annexed by the city over the past 15 years. The majority of the five square mile area in dispute was annexed by the city in 1998.
DeSoto officials asked for the detachment last summer and have since been waiting for a decision by the commissioners. A detachment would mean DeSoto would have the right to levy property taxes in the area and consequently increase its fire protection budget.
The commissioners denied the request, stating the city doesn't have enough fire fighting equipment to adequately protect the area. The commissioners also said the detachment would cost the rural fire district up to $67,000 in revenue next year. The cut in budget would force the district to raise its mill levy or reduce its services, commissioners said.
City council president Duke Neeland said the city could get the needed equipment if it was given the detachment and the tax money that would follow.
"To cover the area they think we need more fire trucks," Neeland said. "If we don't get the detachment, it wouldn't be a wise investment to purchase the trucks. It does create a sort of catch 22."
Neeland said he was confident the city could work with county officials to work out a smooth transition.
"If we had an assurance by them that they would detach, I'm sure we would buy the trucks," he said.
DeSoto Mayor Steve Prudden agreed with Neeland, saying the commissioners should have been more willing to work with the city on the matter.
"I consider it a bad decision on a good plan," Prudden said.
The city council called a special meeting Monday night to discuss the situation. Council members met in a closed-door session to discuss the possibility of filing an appeal in Johnson County District Court. No action was taken on the matter Monday night, but Neeland said he believes a decision will be made at Thursday's meeting.
City attorney Mike Howe said council members don't have much time to waste.
"We only have 30 days to appeal, so I'm sure they'll decide something," Howe said.
Also on the agenda, council members will:
Consider a time extension on the Cedar Valley Forest depravation permit.
Consider the right of way dedication for the final plat of Kaw Estates.
Consider bids for a roof on the new city hall.
Consider bids for glass and aluminum for the new city hall.
Consider bids for the city's water system enhancement.