The Legislature declares that the fire departments and rescue squads which receive funds pursuant to this amendment are organizations which are public in nature as they promote and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the county.
In addition to all other taxes now or hereafter provided by law, there shall be levied and collected in Clay County a special property tax of two mills on each one dollar's worth of taxable property as assessed for the state ad valorem taxation during the preceding year. The proceeds of the additional taxes levied by this amendment shall be used exclusively for fire protection and safety services.
The Revenue Commissioner of Clay County shall assess the tax herein provided for and shall collect the tax in the same manner and method that other ad valorem taxes are collected. The proceeds of the tax shall be paid by the commissioner directly to the Clay County Volunteer Fire Department Association. The proceeds shall be divided by the association among the eligible volunteer fire departments and rescue squads so that the proceeds of the tax collected within the corporate limits of the Cities of Ashland and Lineville shall be allocated proportionately to the volunteer fire departments of those cities and any rescue squads serving those cities, and the proceeds from collections in the unincorporated areas of the county shall be allocated equally among the volunteer fire departments and the rescue squads which serve the unincorporated areas of the county. The rescue squads shall also receive the same percentage of the proceeds distributed proportionately to Ashland and Lineville which the rescue squads receive from the county portion of the proceeds.
An eligible fire department, for purposes of this amendment, means a fire department in Clay County which is a member in good standing with the Clay County Volunteer Fire Department Association according to guidelines established by the Alabama Volunteer Fire Department Association.
An eligible rescue squad for purposes of this amendment, means a rescue squad in Clay County which is in good standing according to guidelines established by the Alabama Association of Rescue Squads.
Funds paid to eligible fire departments and rescue squads shall only be expended for fire protection and safety services including training, supplies, and equipment. The funds may also be expended to purchase liability insurance to insure coverage of acts or omissions which are directly related to the functions of a fire department or rescue squad which are committed by the department or squad or the personnel of a fire department or rescue squad. The funds may not be expended for food, drink, social activities, salaries, or fund-raising activities. After receiving funds, the fire departments and rescue squads shall keep accurate records to verify that the funds were properly expended. By September 15 of each year, the association shall file a financial statement with the Clay County Commission detailing the expenditure of all funds received from this amendment during the previous 12 months. The filing shall also account for all unspent funds and whether the unspent funds have been obligated. No new fire departments or rescue squads shall be funded within Clay County without prior approval of the Clay County Volunteer Fire Department Association.
Upon dissolution or abandonment of any eligible fire department or rescue squad, any remaining funds derived from this amendment or any assets purchased with funds derived from this amendment shall, after all indebtedness has been satisfied, be transferred to the Clay County Volunteer Fire Department Association. The funds and assets shall be reallocated by the association equally to the other fire departments and rescue squads. In the event the association is dissolved, the additional property tax levied under this amendment shall self-destruct and no longer be levied and collected.
The personnel of fire departments and rescue squads provided for in this amendment shall not be considered employees, servants, or agents of the county and the members of the county commission and the employees of the county shall not be liable in either their official capacity or in a private capacity for the actions of the personnel of fire departments or rescue squads.
This amendment shall apply to collections of ad valorem taxes for the 1995-96 tax year and thereafter. The initial provisions of this amendment may hereafter be amended by local legislation which may become effective without referendum approval.