SPONSOR: Flotron (Hoppe)

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Local Government and Related Matters by a vote of 19 to 0.

This substitute requires that, beginning July 1, 2000, two-tenths of 1% of the premium taxes levied on insurance companies be credited to the Fire Education Fund. Currently, 3% of the amount collected which exceeds the premium taxes deposited in 1997 are credited to the fund.

The substitute requires the Department of Public Safety, subject to appropriations, to establish a grant program for volunteer fire protection associations and fire protection districts which collected or received less than $10,000 local tax revenue in the preceding year. The grants are to be awarded for the purchase of equipment and the construction of fire stations.

Under current law, Raytown and municipalities having a municipal fire department are allowed to impose a sales tax of up to 0.25% on all retail sales made within the municipality. The tax is to be used exclusively for the operation of the fire department. The substitute allows any fire protection district to impose this tax upon voter approval.

The substitute requires all existing high-rise buildings, except state buildings, to be protected by an approved fire protection sprinkler system by January 1, 2012. The standards for the plan must comply with the National Fire Protection Association Pamphlet 13. Owners of existing high- rise buildings which are not protected by a system must submit a written master plan to the State Fire Marshal. The substitute outlines the phases of the installation of a system. The State Fire Marshal is authorized to adopt rules that are necessary for the approval of sprinkler system master plans. A fee may be charged for the review or a plan. Violators of this law will be guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

The substitute allows fire protection districts within St. Louis County to contract for fire protection services for a fee with any municipality or village that does not operate its own fire department or does not receive protection from another district. The substitute allows for the negotiation of an agreement between the fire protection district and the municipality to provide fire protection service based on any method of compensation to which the parties agree. If the fire protection district is authorized to provide ambulance service within its district, then it may also provide ambulance service to the municipality. This portion of the substitute contains an emergency clause.

The substitute also allows fire districts in Jackson County to impose, upon voter approval, a retail sales tax on sales within the district in the amount of one-half of 1% for the operation of the fire protection district. The substitute requires local property taxes to be reduced by half the amount of sales taxes collected.

FISCAL NOTE: Net Effect on Fire Education Fund of $0 in FY 2001, FY 2002, and FY 2003. Net Cost to General Revenue Fund of $185,829 in FY 2001, $148,190 in FY 2002, and $133,190 in FY 2003. Cost does not include 1% sales tax collection fees or costs associated with the program to award grants, which are subject to appropriation (Section 320.330) and are unknown.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that the city of Town and Country must remit an amount to fire districts in excess of what it costs to provide service. State law will not allow the negotiation of a fair amount.

Testifying for the bill were Senator Flotron; Mayor of Town and Country; and West County EMS and Fire District.

OPPONENTS: There was no opposition voiced to the committee.

Steve Bauer, Legislative Analyst