Fire Bill (SB485)

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SB485

1 SB485

2

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4 With Notice and Proof

5

6 ENROLLED, An Act,

7 Relating to Geneva County; to provide for the

8 establishment of fire districts for the purpose of preventing

9 fires or for fire protection or for recognized scopes of

10 practice of fire departments; providing for the manner in

11 which the district may be created for any area; providing for

12 the petition for a proposed district and the election thereon;

13 providing for payment of the costs of elections; providing

14 that no district shall be created unless the creation thereof

15 has been approved by the majority of votes cast at an

16 election; providing that if the creation of the proposed

17 district is approved by the majority of votes cast at an

18 election, the proposed district shall be created and shall

19 constitute a public corporation; providing for the management

20 and operation of each district; providing for the election of

21 a fire district board, except the initial board made up of the

22 existing board of the directors of each volunteer fire

23 department, each being a public corporation; providing for the

24 terms of office of the members of the board; providing for the

25 officers' compensation, expense allowance, and duties of the

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1 members of the board; defining the rights, power, and

2 authority of the district; authorizing any district to pledge

3 all or any part of its revenues, or to mortgage or otherwise

4 encumber all or any part of its property for the purpose of

5 securing the payment of the principal of and interest on any

6 of its obligations; authorizing any such district to levy and

7 collect service charges or fees subject to certain

8 limitations; and providing for the dissolution of any

9 district.

10 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

11 Section 1. This act shall apply only to Geneva

12 County.

13 Section 2. The following words and terms shall have

14 the following meanings:

15 (1) BOARD. The board of directors of a district

16 established pursuant to this act.

17 (2) COUNTY. Geneva County.

18 (3) DISTRICT. The district created under this act

19 for establishing and maintaining a system for fighting or

20 preventing fires and performing recognized scopes of practice

21 of emergency services.

22 Section 3. Any area situated entirely within the

23 county may be established as a district for fighting fires

24 pursuant to this act. No land lying within the boundaries of a

25 municipality at the time a district is formed shall be

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1 included in the district unless the municipality adopts a

2 resolution to be included in the district. Nothing in this act

3 shall be construed to limit or impede the right or ability of

4 a municipality to provide fire protection within its corporate

5 limits or its police jurisdiction.

6 Section 4. (a) Upon any petition being filed in the

7 office of the judge of probate, he or she shall order an

8 election to be held in the proposed district on the question

9 or questions on which the petition requests an election. The

10 petition shall be signed by at least 100 qualified electors

11 residing within the boundaries of the proposed district.

12 (b) The petition shall contain a map and description

13 of the area which is proposed to be established as a district

14 under this act and the petition shall request the judge of

15 probate to call an election on the following question: "Shall

16 there be created for the area a district for fighting fires?

17 Yes ( ) No ( )"

18 (c) The petition shall state the name of the

19 proposed district. The board of a district may change the name

20 of a district by filing in the office of the judge of probate

21 a copy of the resolution changing the name thereof, which copy

22 shall be certified by the president of the board.

23 (d) The petition for election on the establishment

24 of a district may be accompanied by a petition for an election

25 on the question of levying a proposed service charge or fee

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1 which last named petition shall be signed by at least 100

2 qualified electors residing within the proposed district. A

3 petition for an election on the establishment of a district

4 shall be deemed to be accompanied by a petition for an

5 election on the question of levying a proposed service charge

6 or fee and a petition for an election on the question of the

7 proposed composition of the board, if the request for the

8 election on the proposed district, the request for the

9 election proposed service charge or fee, and the request for

10 an election on the proposed composition of the board are

11 combined in a single petition.

12 Section 5. (a) When a petition for the holding of

13 any election is filed with the judge of probate not less than

14 30 days and not more than 90 days prior to some other election

15 to be held in the territory in which an election is sought by

16 the petition, the judge of probate shall order the election

17 sought by the petition to be held the same day as the other

18 election is held.

19 (b) If the petition is not filed at a time that will

20 permit the election sought thereby to be held at the time some

21 other election is held, as herein provided, the judge of

22 probate shall order the election sought by the petition to be

23 held on a day not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days from

24 the date on which the judge of probate enters the order with

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1 the costs assumed by the district requesting the special

2 election.

3 (c) The provisions of this section shall apply to

4 all elections provided for by this act.

5 Section 6. The provisions of the election laws

6 governing the registration of voters, equipment at polling

7 places, furnishing of supplies, appointment of election

8 officers, voting, and canvassing returns at a general election

9 shall apply to any election for a fire district.

10 Section 7. The judge of probate shall give notice of

11 any election held under Section 4 or Section 13 by publishing

12 for three weeks at least once a week, on the same day of each

13 week, in a newspaper of general circulation in the territory

14 where the election is to be held, a notice that on the day

15 fixed for the election the questions to be voted on shall be

16 submitted to the electors of the territory.

17 Section 8. Where an election is held on the question

18 of the establishment of a district, the governing body of the

19 county shall pay for the necessary expenses of advertising and

20 conducting the election out of the general funds of the

21 county. The district shall pay the expense of any special

22 election held on behalf of the district.

23 Section 9. No district shall be created unless the

24 creation thereof is approved by the majority of votes cast at

25 the election at which the proposed creation is submitted. Upon

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1 the officers canvassing the returns of the election certifying

2 that the creation of the district was approved by the majority

3 of the votes cast at the election, the proposed district shall

4 be created and shall constitute a public corporation.

5 Section 10. (a) The affairs and business of each

6 district shall be managed by a board of directors composed of

7 seven members. The initial members shall consist of seven

8 members from the existing board of directors of the volunteer

9 fire department serving the district. No person shall serve on

10 the board unless the person is a qualified elector and resides

11 in the district and is over the age of 21. Members of the

12 board of directors of a district shall serve a term of four

13 years; provided, however, that the initial terms shall be as

14 follows: Of the seven members first elected, two shall be

15 elected for a term of one year, two shall be elected for a

16 term of two years, and three shall be elected for a term of

17 four years. Their successors shall be elected from among those

18 candidates who are nominated from the floor at the annual

19 meeting of the district. The members of the board of the

20 district shall be elected at the annual meeting by secret

21 ballot of the district from among persons nominated. Any

22 person who is a qualified elector and a resident of the

23 district may vote on the election of the board of directors of

24 a district.

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1 (b) A vacancy on the board shall be filled at the

2 next annual meeting for the unexpired term in the same manner

3 as herein required. The board may appoint a qualified elector

4 from the district in which the vacancy occurs who will serve

5 until the next annual meeting.

6 (c) The board shall elect annually from its own

7 number a president, secretary, and a treasurer. The members of

8 the board shall not be entitled to any compensation for their

9 services, but they shall be entitled to reimbursement for all

10 expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties.

11 Section 11. (a) The district shall constitute a

12 public corporation, which shall have the power to do any and

13 all acts or things necessary and convenient for carrying out

14 the purposes for which it is created including, but not

15 limited to, all of the following:

16 (1) To sue or be sued.

17 (2) To have a seal and alter the same at pleasure.

18 (3) To acquire, hold, and dispose of property, real

19 and personal, tangible and intangible, or interests therein

20 and to pay therefor in cash or credit, and to secure and

21 procure payment of all or any part of the purchase price

22 thereof on such terms and conditions as the board shall

23 determine.

24 (4) To acquire, own, operate, maintain, and improve

25 a system or systems.

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1 (5) To pledge all or any part of its revenues,

2 mortgage, or otherwise encumber, all or any part of its

3 property for the purpose of securing the payment of the

4 principal of and interest on any of its obligations.

5 (6) To sell, lease, mortgage, or otherwise encumber

6 or dispose of all or any part of its property, as hereinafter

7 provided.

8 (7) To contract debts, borrow money, and to issue or

9 assume the payment of obligations.

10 (8) To levy and collect service charges or fees, as

11 herein provided, subject to the limitations prescribed in this

12 act.

13 (9) To provide refunds of overpaid service charges

14 and fees previously collected by the district and to otherwise

15 correct errors made in assessment or collection of service

16 charges and fees.

17 (10) To terminate the assessment and collection of

18 service charges and fees upon the withdrawal of a property

19 owner from the district as provided herein.

20 (11) To employ agents, servants, and attorneys.

21 (12) To enter into mutual assistance agreements and

22 response and coverage agreements with municipalities and other

23 governmental and public entities.

24 (13) To perform any and all of the foregoing acts

25 and to do any and all foregoing things under, through, or by

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1 means of its own officers, agents, and employees, or by

2 contracts with any person, federal agency, or municipality.

3 (b) This act shall constitute the articles of

4 incorporation of the public corporation; however, the board

5 shall adopt bylaws for the governance of the district.

6 Section 12. (a) The expenses of establishing and

7 maintaining a district shall be paid for by the proceeds of a

8 fire protection fee which shall be levied and collected in an

9 amount sufficient to pay the expense. One percent of the fee

10 shall be appropriated to fund the Geneva County office of the

11 Alabama Forestry Commission. One percent of the fee shall be

12 appropriated to the Geneva County Volunteer Firefighters

13 Association. The fee shall be levied at a uniform fate rate

14 upon each dwelling and commercial building served by the

15 system. The term "commercial building" shall not apply to any

16 utility distribution or transmission poles or towers or

17 utility substations. The fee shall be collected, administered,

18 and enforced at the same time, in the same manner, and under

19 the same requirements and laws as are the ad valorem taxes of

20 the state. The property owner would be provided the same

21 rights in this situation as he or she would have in an ad

22 valorem tax situation.

23 (b) The board may provide that upon a person being

24 in default for more than 60 days in paying any service charge

25 or fee due, the person shall be liable to pay, in addition to

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1 the service charge or fee, a reasonable late fee and any

2 reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the district in its

3 efforts to enforce payment of the service charge or fee

4 whether suit is filed or not.

5 (c) For the purposes of this act, a "dwelling" shall

6 be defined as any building, structure, or other improvement to

7 real property used or expected to be used as a dwelling or

8 residence for one or more human beings, including, but not

9 limited to:

10 (1) Any building, structure, or improvement

11 assessed, for the purposes of state and county ad valorem

12 taxation, as Class III single-family owner-occupied

13 residential property.

14 (2) A duplex or an apartment building.

15 (3) Residential property used to generate rental

16 income.

17 (4) Any manufactured home or house trailer used or

18 expected to be used as a dwelling or residence for one or more

19 human beings.

20 A building, structure, or other improvement shall be

21 classified as a "dwelling" for purposes of this act

22 notwithstanding the following:

23 (1) That it is wholly or partially vacant or

24 uninhabited at any time during the year for which a fire

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1 protection and emergency medical service fee with respect

2 thereto is to be levied.

3 (2) That it is also used or expected to be used

4 simultaneously for a purpose, whether or not commercial in

5 nature, other than as a dwelling or residence as aforesaid.

6 (d) For the purposes of this act, a "commercial

7 building" shall be defined as any building, structure, or

8 other improvement to real property used or expected to be used

9 for commercial or business purposes including rental property.

10 The term "commercial building" shall not apply to any school,

11 church, senior citizens facility, or utility distribution or

12 transmission poles or towers, utility substations, or any

13 building used primarily for fire or emergency services, and

14 shall not apply to any building or structure used primarily

15 for agricultural production purposes by the owner or an

16 employee of an agricultural business or concern.

17 Section 13. (a) No service charge or fee shall be

18 levied unless the same has first been approved by the majority

19 of the votes cast at an election held hereunder by the

20 qualified electors residing within the district, or within the

21 proposed district.

22 (b) An election on the question levying a service

23 charge or fee in a proposed district may be held at the same

24 time that the election is held on the creation of the

25 district; provided that the petition for the election on the

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1 question of the service charge or fee accompanies the petition

2 for the election on the establishment of the proposed district

3 as provided herein. An election on the question of a service

4 charge or fee may be held upon the board of the district

5 submitting to the judge of probate a petition for an election

6 as provided. The board shall file in the office of the judge

7 of probate a petition that he or she call an election in the

8 district on the question of whether the service charge or fee

9 proposed should be levied. No election shall be required to

10 refund overpaid service charges or fees to correct errors in

11 the assessment thereof or to terminate the assessment and

12 collection thereof upon withdrawal of a property owner from a

13 district as provided herein, all of which shall be effectuated

14 by written authorization of the president of the board.

15 (c) The petition shall state specially the charge or

16 fee for which it is proposed to be levied. The petition may

17 request that an election be held on more than one proposed

18 charge or fee. Upon the petition being filed with the probate

19 judge, he or she shall order an election to be held within the

20 time provided for by this act.

21 Section 14. (a) Any district created hereunder may

22 be abolished in the manner provided for by this section;

23 provided, however, that no district shall be abolished when it

24 has any indebtedness. All assets and equipment shall go to the

25 Geneva County Volunteer Firefighters Association.

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1 (b) Upon the petition for abolition of a district,

2 conforming to the requirements set forth below, being filed

3 with the judge of probate, he or she shall order an election

4 on abolition of the district within the time provided, at

5 which the qualified electors residing within the district

6 shall be entitled to vote. The petition shall be signed by at

7 least 100 qualified electors of the district. It shall contain

8 a recital that the district is not indebted and it shall

9 request the judge of probate to order an election on whether

10 the district shall be abolished. Upon the officers canvassing

11 the returns of the election certifying that abolition of the

12 district was approved by a majority of the votes cast at the

13 election, the district shall be abolished.

14 Section 15. All laws or parts of laws which conflict

15 with this act are repealed.

16 Section 16. This act shall become effective

17 immediately following its passage and approval by the

18 Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.

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1

2

3

4 President and Presiding Officer of the Senate

5

6 Speaker of the House of Representatives

7 SB485

8 Senate 06-APR-10

9 I hereby certify that the within Act originated in and passed

10 the Senate, as amended.

11

12 McDowell Lee

13 Secretary

14

15

16

17 House of Representatives

18 Passed: 14-APR-10

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21 By: Senator Smith

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