Johnson County Commission approves fire service merger pact
OLATHE – Another step toward the unification of two fire departments in northwest Johnson County was taken Thursday, November 20, with approval by the Johnson County Board of Commissioners of a memorandum of understanding between the city of De Soto and Johnson County Fire District No. 3.
The agreement outlines a process to plan and complete a merger between the De Soto Fire Department, which serves the De Soto central core, and Johnson County Fire District No. 3, which provides fire protection for outlying parts of the city and the area surrounding. The unification of the two fire departments will lead to the creation of the Northwest Consolidated Fire Department with a target date of Jan. 1, 2010.
The proposed consolidation of the two fire departments has been in the works for more than two years, but required approval of legislation to amend certain state fire district statutes. The Kansas Legislature approved legislation in 2008 to make the necessary statutory changes.
On Thursday, commissioners approved the memorandum of understanding by unanimous vote. The memorandum had been approved by the De Soto City Council and the Fire District No. 3 governing board in October.
Under the agreement, a five-member advisory committee will be established to iron out the details for the consolidation.
Max Atwell and Linda Zindler are to represent the city on the board and current fire board members Kent Dvorak, Larry Kramer and Jay Lang are to be the fire board’s representatives.
The county commission will appoint the members once the newly elected commissioners take their seats in the first week of January.
The advisory committee will focus on administrative and operational details of the consolidation, such as employee transition and benefits, equipment and staffing, real and personal property transfers, payment of outstanding bonds, and command structure. The panel will prepare a proposed transition plan, operations plan, and a draft budget for the newly consolidated fire district with a targeted completion date by February 28, 2009.
The county commission is expected to review and consider a proposed resolution in March 2009 to create the Northwest Consolidated Fire District. The resolution also must be approved by the De Soto City Council and Fire District No. 3 governing board.
Once Northwest Consolidated Fire District becomes operational and fully functional, the De Soto Fire Department and Johnson County Fire District No. 3 will be dissolved.