The Legislature declares that all volunteer fire departments, including volunteer fire departments that have emergency medical technicians that are members, are organizations that are public in nature and serve to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Montgomery County.
In addition to all ad valorem taxes levied for fire protection, the Montgomery County Commission may levy and collect a special ad valorem tax, not to exceed two and one-half mills in any year on each dollar of assessed value of the property taxed, on property in the unincorporated area of Montgomery County for the purpose of providing fire protection in the unincorporated area of Montgomery County.
The tax provided in this act shall be levied, collected, administered, and enforced at the same time, in the same manner, and under the same requirements and laws as state ad valorem taxes. The officials collecting or assessing the tax shall be entitled to the same fees and compensation as are provided for collecting and assessing ad valorem taxes. The proceeds of the tax shall be paid into the county general fund. Within thirty days after payment into the county general fund, the Montgomery County Commission shall pay the funds to the Montgomery County Association of Volunteer Firefighters, hereafter referred to as the county association. The county association shall distribute the funds as follows:
(1) 60 percent shall be divided equally among all eligible volunteer fire departments.
(2) 30 percent shall be divided according to a percentage based upon the monies collected in a fire district compared to the total monies collected. The county association shall notify the Revenue Commissioner within 30 days after this act becomes operative of the designated fire districts. The boundaries of the fire districts may be rearranged at the discretion of the county association as they deem necessary, from time to time, to maximize fire protection services in the county.
(3) Ten percent of the money shall be designated as discretionary fund of the county association to be used for any expenditure otherwise allowable under this act.
In order to be an eligible volunteer fire department for purposes of this act, a volunteer fire department shall be in good standing with the Montgomery County Association of Volunteer Firefighters.
Funds disbursed to eligible volunteer fire departments pursuant to this act shall be expended only for fire protection and emergency medical services, including but not limited to, training, supplies, buildings, capital improvements, equipment, insurance, professional services, and dues. The funds shall not be expended for food, drink, social activities, or fund-raising activities. After receiving the funds, the volunteer fire departments shall keep accurate records to verify that the funds are properly expended. By September 15th of each year, the department shall file a report with the county association detailing the expenditure of all funds during the previous twelve months and setting out a schedule of all proposed projects. The filing shall account for all unspent funds and whether unspent funds have been obligated. Unspent funds that have not been obligated which exceed the amount of total receipts paid to the department for the prior year from this tax shall be returned to the county association for redistribution equally among the other fire departments. The county association shall supply the accounting forms to each eligible volunteer fire department. The copy of the year-end report shall be filed with the county commission and shall be audited by the Examiners of Public Accounts of the state on the same basis as county funds are audited.
Upon dissolution or abandonment of an eligible volunteer fire department, all remaining funds derived from this act or assets purchased with the funds derived from this act shall be transferred to the county association.
Prior to the levy of the fire protection tax in the unincorporated areas of county, there shall be submitted to the electors at a special election called for that purpose in the county, the question of whether the tax shall be levied. If a majority of the qualified electors within the unincorporated area of the county who vote at the election approve the tax, the tax shall be effective and levied. If a majority of the qualified electors within the unincorporated area of the county who vote at the election do not approve the tax, the tax shall not be effective and shall not be levied.
Elections on the question of the levy of a fire protection tax in the county may be held at any time and from time to time. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if at an election held after the ratification of this amendment the proposal to levy the tax so submitted is defeated, then the proposal may not be submitted at another election held in the county within two years from the last election held under this amendment.