In our increasing efforts to communicate with residents of AFD, we have put together the following list of commonly asked questions and answers. Our goal is to keep you informed of our process and progress in getting AFD established and operational. We encourage your participation and input. If you have questions that are not included here, please email us, contact one of the Board Members or come to the next Board Meeting. Sincerely, AFD Board of Directors
1. I assumed the firehouse would be located near the Alfalfa Community Hall. Will it be located there, and why has it taken so long to get built? We had also assumed the firehouse would be located there, but after prolonged negotiations with the Alfalfa Water Users Association (AWUA) who own the property, the AFD Board decided it would be too much of a financial burden and was not in the best long-term financial interest of the AFD to accept their last proposal.
2. Are other building sites being considered? The Fire Station needs to be located at a site that will benefit the most residents within the district. The Community Center did not provide the optimum central location. Negotiations are under way for a site west of the Community Center and near the canal. Other options are also being researched, but the canal location provides the best option to meet the needs of all district members.
3. How were the boundaries of AFD determined and by whom? Based upon numerous requests from residents, the formation committee drew the boundaries and tried to include the most properties or inhabited areas within a five plus mile radius of the Alfalfa Community Center. The Southwest corner of the district was butted against Bend Rural Fire District #2, which helped determine that part of the boundary. The boundary map was submitted to, and approved by Deschutes County.
4. The current AFD tax rate is $1.75 per $1000. of assessed property value. Can the AFD Board raise it? No. Not without voter approval. AFD Voters would need to approve any rates higher than the $1.75/1000 currently levied or pass some type of additional bond measure. Taxes may go up but only as the assessed property values go up—in other words as the value of your property increases so do your tax assessments, which we have no control over.
5. I thought the farm/ranch properties were only going to be taxed on buildings and improvements located on a maximum of 5 acres of property. The early organizers of the AFD Formation Committee were given erroneous and outdated information. This was corrected on all of the campaign materials prior to and including the November Ballot vote for formation. All property is taxed but at a variety of rates. Farmland is taxed at a much lower rate than residential land.
6. Will AFD only fight wild-land fires? No. AFD is committed to being a fully responsive fire department by being able to fight wild-land, structural fires and EMS services. Because of legal, safety and time issues, the initial fire-fighter training will encompass wild-land and exterior structure fires. The next level of training will be for fighting interior structure fires, which also require special training and breathing equipment.
7. Will AFD be providing emergency medical services (EMS)? Because EMS services are currently provided to the Alfalfa area by the City of Bend, the AFD Board is focusing on initially providing fire-fighting services. But, because the call volume for EMS is much higher than for fire-fighting (approx.. 5 to 1), AFD is planning to provide first response aid to shorten the response time from Bend.
8. Will having an established fire district lower my insurance costs? Current estimates are that basic fire protection, once established, may lower premiums up to 20% from a Class 10 to a Class 9 rating. It would depend on what your current classification is with your insurance provider. An additional benefit is that your insurance cannot be canceled or denied because of not being in an established fire district. Check with your insurance provider for specific information.
9. Is it the responsibility of AFD to notify me of every Board Meeting and activity? State public meeting law requires certain notification standards. AFD is meeting or exceeding these requirements and we are striving to keep our fire district patrons notified of important developments through our quarterly newsletters, and postings on the community boards, Alfalfa Store and Community Center. Unfortunately, it costs AFD approx. $300 for every mailing. We also try to maintain a current email and mailing address list.
10. Why did I find out about the formation and voter approval of AFD after the fact? Significant effort was made prior to the vote to notify the residents within the fire district. A newsletter was mailed to each registered voter prior to the election using a mailing list compiled from Deschutes and Crook County tax and voter records. There were radio and TV announcements, and a complete description was also included in the voter pamphlet. Over 235 people were contacted face to face with the petition drive. There were also numerous signboards placed in a variety of locations and at the Alfalfa Store prior to the election. Plus, a community outreach BBQ was held at the Alfalfa Community Center. If people somehow missed all of these notifications it was unfortunate.
11. I think my property tax assessment is too high, what can I do about it? Contact your County Assessor and ask them to give you an explanation about your taxes. You may be able to appeal your tax amount through them. AFD has no input or authority other than to collect the 1.75/1000 currently levied by the voters of AFD.
12. Can I opt-out of the AFD? No. The only way that we are aware of is by your no longer being a property owner within the AFD.
13. Will AFD have a full-time or part-time fire chief and will it be a paid position? We have budgeted for a paid, part-time fire chief position. We are going through a lengthy process to advertise for the position, and have already begun interviews. We will let you know when we are successful.
14. Can I come to and speak at the AFD Board Meetings? Yes. AFD Board meetings are open to the public unless a special closed-door meeting is required. We encourage all AFD residents to attend. You must sign-in at the door and indicate if you wish to speak. It is important to understand that the majority of AFD Board meetings are work sessions for Board members to make decisions. You must maintain civility and respect for fellow citizens and Board Members. We suggest you take notes or jot down your questions to have ready when it is your opportunity to speak. The Board Member leading the meeting will allow a time for public input and questions and has the authority to allow or dismiss your input or question. Roberts Rules of Order are followed by the Board in order to maintain efficiency and decorum.
15. Do the May 1 fire restrictions recently published by the Bend Rural Fire District #2 apply to the Alfalfa area? No. But since we don’t currently have fire protection yet in place we should be extra cautious. If adjacent districts with fire protection are banning open burning then we should be cognizant of the high fire danger and do likewise. Persons who ignite fires that escape or do damage could be subject to penalties through the Sheriff’s Office.
Volunteers Needed! Help make a difference. We need firefighters, emergency medical response & support services. If you are interested or have questions please contact one of the following: • Bob Kathman, President Board of Directors 541-760-0216 firstname.lastname@example.org • Steve Stenkamp, Operations Volunteer 541-388-2654 email@example.com