Time for county to grant detachment
Mayor Dave Anderson received the blessing of the De Soto City Council last week for a plan to ask the Johnson County Commission to detach part of Johnson County Rural Fire District No. 3.
The plan would allow De Soto to annex that part of the district within the city in conjunction with similar moves by Gardner and Olathe. The proposal would not eliminate the fire district, which would retain mill levy authority. Instead, De Soto would lease the fire station on Kill Creek Road and contract to provide services to the district. The two departments would be merged.
It is a new approach to resolve an issue that has caused rancor between past city councils and fire district boards. It should be noted, however, the proposal did not originate with the city but with a member of the fire district board. The full board refused to accept it, however, because of concerns about who would serve as chief of the merged department.
The city needs and deserves the detachment. It is not just a question of the still largely rural sections that became part of De Soto from the 1999 annexation. When the council discussed the possible detachment last month, all five council members and the mayor learned they live in the rural fire district. That illustrates the city's dilemma. Without the detachment and the enlarged tax base it would bring, the city lacks the funds to adequately plan for a key municipal service.
Those planning concerns include a badly needed new fire station. Indeed, the status of that fire station in the city's recently adopted comprehensive plan it was included without a completion date reflects the kind of ambiguous planning forced on the city by the current situation.
It is time for the Johnson County Commission, which routinely approves Olathe's detachment requests, to recognize the merit of De Soto's request.