LOUISIANA – Louisiana Fire Department Chief Philip Quattrocchi closed his report to City Council Monday, Jan. 27, by indicating his support for efforts to turn the city-run fire department into an independent fire protection district.

“Whether it’s this year, whether it’s next year, whether it’s five years from now, the opportunities for us as a fire department improve greatly if we become our own district,” Quattrocchi said.

The idea has been floated by members of City Council as they try to get a grip on the city’s financial situation, since it would allow the city revenue currently spent on fire protection to go to other city functions. The district, in turn, would be funded by a new tax on district residents.

Quattrocchi said he hoped the new district would open up new possibilities for grant funding by disentangling the volunteer fire department from the city’s finances. Quattrocchi said he thought declining insurance costs due to better fire department service could help offset the burden on taxpayers.

“The fire service isn’t cheap. If we can go out there and be eligible for grants as a fire district to help us, as opposed to having to pay stuff out of pocket through the city, it would be a lot easier and a lot better for all of us,” Quattrocchi said.

Establishing a fire protection district requires a petition signed by at least 100 district residents, a hearing before a circuit court judge and a two-question election — should the new district be established and should a tax be levied to pay for it — according to information prepared by Missouri Extension.

“I agree that we need to work on this. It’s a process. It’s not as simple as adopting an ordinance like we did for raising the property taxes. It’s a fairly long process,” Mayor Marvin Brown said.

Another alternative would be a merger with nearby fire protection districts, but other districts have not so far been receptive to the idea. Quattrocchi said he thought a stronger, independent district might be better positioned to pursue a merger further down the road.

Council struggles to find money for full-time court clerk

Much of Monday’s meeting was taken trying to find money to hire a full-time court clerk as required by a Missouri Supreme Court ruling.

Council opted to continue to look for somebody to hire for the position and hold a special meeting to consider where in the budget it could find the money to support it. .

Fire department eyes insurance, new truck

The Louisiana fire department is continuing to work through the consequences of a crash last year which destroyed a nearly-new fire truck and much of the equipment contained within.

Quattrocchi told the Council Monday that he was looking into ainsuring more of the department’s equipment after the crash resulted in an estimated loss of more than $200,000 in uninsured equipment. At the moment, the department only insures its vehicles leaving, Quattrocchi estimated, only $35,000 out of around $1 million of department equipment insured.

Quattrocchi said he was looking into a policy with Volunteer Firemen’s Insurance Services, an insurer that offers tailor-made products for volunteer fire departments.

Quattrocchi also told the council he was planning to travel to Illinois to check out a used fire truck that would replace the destroyed truck this weekend.

Backs federal Native American holiday

An Illinois man’s effort to create a federal holiday honoring Native Americans was endorsed by Council at its Monday meeting. Merle Whiteside of Roseville, Ill., had reached out to the city to see if it would consider supporting him — which it did after very brief deliberations Monday.

Whiteside’s initiative had previously attracted support from Hannibal City Council.

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