The bill would establish a framework for local governments to create multi-jurisdictional districts.
The bill is supported by a number or organizations, including the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association and the League of Minnesota Cities. Other bills discussed by the committee included three individual bills to allow the creation of fire protection districts in the Northfield, Burnsville, and the Cromwell-Wright areas.
The committee had a lengthy discussion of the bills and the challenges cities are facing in some areas of the state to staff paid on-call firefighter positions. The committee also discussed the potential economies of scale that could be realized by creating districts to provide services over a larger area.
Chair Bill Weber (R-Luverne) asked whether there could be situations where participating jurisdictions would maintain their previous property tax levels while the fire protection district would impose a new tax levy. In response, Sen. Matt Klein (DFL-Mendota Heights) suggested that the committee should consider adding a truth-in-taxation hearing requirement to address any concerns about property tax levels.
All four bills were laid over for possible inclusion in a subcommittee report.