The Legislature declares that the fire departments 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 Calhoun County a special county-wide property tax of three mills on each one dollar's worth of taxable property as assessed for the state ad valorem taxation. The proceeds of the additional taxes levied by this amendment shall be used exclusively for fire protection services provided by volunteer and full-time fire departments.
The Tax Assessor of Calhoun County shall assess the tax herein provided for and the tax collector 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 tax collector directly to the Calhoun County Volunteer Firefighters' Association and to the cities. The proceeds shall be divided so that the proceeds of the tax collected within the corporate limits of any city within the county shall be allocated to the fire department of that city and the proceeds from collections in the unincorporated areas of the county shall be allocated among the volunteer fire departments which serve the unincorporated area of the county, based on the following formula:
(a) One-third of the proceeds shall be equally divided among the volunteer fire departments which are in good standing with the Calhoun County Volunteer Firefighters' Association.
(b) One-third of the proceeds shall be divided to each volunteer fire department based upon the number of people who live within each respective fire district.
(c) One-third of the proceeds shall be divided to each volunteer fire department based upon the number of acres of land contained in each fire district.
From the proceeds collected in the police jurisdiction, but outside the corporate limits, of any city, one-third shall be allocated for the city serving the police jurisdiction and two-thirds shall be allocated to the Calhoun County Volunteer Firefighters' Association to be divided as herein prescribed.
An eligible fire department, for purposes of this amendment, means a fire department in Calhoun County which is a member in good standing with the Calhoun County Volunteer Firefighters' Association according to guidelines established by the Alabama Volunteer Fire Department Association.
Funds paid to eligible fire departments shall be expended for fire protection and rescue services including training, supplies, equipment, and facilities. The funds may also be expended to purchase insurance to insure coverage of acts or omissions which are directly related to the functions of a fire department which are committed by the department or the personnel of a fire department and to insure assets of the fire department. The funds may not be expended for food, drink, social activities, salaries, or fund-raising activities. After receiving funds, the fire departments shall keep accurate records to verify that the funds were properly expended. The records shall reasonably be open to the public for inspection. By September 15 of each year, the association shall file a financial statement with the Calhoun 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 shall be funded within Calhoun County without prior approval of the Calhoun County Volunteer Firefighters' Association.
Upon dissolution or abandonment of any eligible fire department, 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 Calhoun County Volunteer Firefighters' Association. The funds and assets shall be reallocated by the association to the other fire departments based upon the formula previously set out in this amendment. In the event the association is dissolved, the additional property tax levied under this amendment shall end and no longer be levied and collected.
The personnel of fire departments 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.
This amendment shall apply to collections of ad valorem taxes for the 1996-97 tax year and thereafter. The initial provisions of this amendment may hereafter be amended by local legislation which may become effective without referendum approval.