Commission Authorized to Levy Ad Valorem Tax for Fire Protection in Pickens County.

(a) In addition to all other ad valorem taxes levied, the Pickens County Commission may levy on an annual basis, commencing with the tax year beginning October 1, 1998, an ad valorem tax on all taxable property, located in Pickens County at a rate of three mills per dollar of assessed value of the taxable property. The proceeds of the tax levied pursuant to this amendment shall be paid into the county general fund and distributed for the benefit of fire protection only.

(b) Within 30 days of payment into the county general fund, the county commission shall pay the funds to the Pickens County Volunteer Firefighters' Association. The county association shall divide the funds equally among all eligible volunteer fire departments, collectively, and the Pickens County Volunteer Firefighters' Association at each bimonthly meeting of the county association. The county association may establish rules regarding the transfer, investing, accounting, and handling of the funds.

(c) Funds paid to eligible volunteer fire departments shall only be expended for fire protection services, including training, supplies, buildings, capital improvements, and equipment. An eligible volunteer fire department shall mean a volunteer fire department located in Pickens County that is certified under the guidelines of the Alabama Forestry Commission, shall have at least an ISO class 9 rating, and is a member in good standing of the Pickens County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments. The funds may not be expended for salaries, food, drink, social activities, or fund-raising activities. After receiving funds, the eligible volunteer fire departments shall keep accurate records to verify that the funds were properly expended. By September 15th of each year, each department shall file a form with the county association detailing the expenditures of all funds during the previous 12 months and setting out a schedule of all proposed projects. The filing shall also account for all unspent funds and whether the unspent funds have been obligated. The county association shall supply the accounting forms to each eligible volunteer fire department.

(d) Upon dissolution or abandonment of any eligible volunteer fire department, any remaining funds shall, after all indebtedness has been satisfied, be transferred to the county association.

(e) The personnel of eligible volunteer fire departments shall not be considered as 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 eligible volunteer fire departments.