Amendment 637 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 is amended to read as follows:
(a) In addition to all other ad valorem taxes levied, the DeKalb 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 DeKalb County, excluding taxable property located within the city limits of Fort Payne, 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 DeKalb County Association of Fire Departments, Incorporated. At each quarterly meeting of the association, the funds shall be divided between all eligible volunteer fire departments and the DeKalb County Association of Fire Departments so that each volunteer fire department receives an equal share of the funds and the county association receives an amount equal to the total of three of the equal shares received by the volunteer fire departments. Of the three share total distributed to the county association, one-third or one share may be used for administrative duties, the other two-thirds or two shares may be used for fire protection services in those areas not adequately covered by a fire department or for additional fire service equipment purchases on a countywide basis, or both. The county commission and the county association may jointly establish rules regarding the transfer, investing, accounting, and handling of the funds, including but not limited to, any funds which have accrued since October 1, 1998, and have not been distributed as of the ratification date of this amendment.
(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 DeKalb County that is certified under the guidelines of the Alabama Forestry Commission, has at least an ISO class 9 rating, and is a member in good standing of the DeKalb County Association, Incorporated. 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 eligible volunteer fire 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 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 volunteer fire departments.