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 Henry 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 services.
The Revenue Commissioner of Henry 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 shall be divided by the revenue commissioner on an equal basis among the six eligible volunteer fire departments in the county.
An eligible fire department, for purposes of this amendment, means a fire department in Henry County which is a member in good standing with the Alabama Volunteer Fire Department Association.
Funds paid to eligible volunteer fire departments shall only be expended for fire protection 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 which are committed by the department or the personnel of a 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. By September 15 of each year, each volunteer fire department shall file a financial statement with the Henry 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.
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 divided equally among the remaining volunteer fire departments in the county. In the event all of the volunteer fire departments are dissolved, the additional property tax levied under this amendment shall self-destruct and no longer be levied and collected.
The personnel of volunteer 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.