Jennings Fire Department could be dissolved

JENNINGS, Mo. - Some citizens are fighting to keep their firehouse open and their property taxes from rising in Jennings. A proposal to dissolve the fire department is on the August ballot to help save the city money.

The majority of city leaders on board and the Jennings firefighters agree with the proposition, but it would mean an increase in real estate taxes, something residents are not happy about. Jennings currently has one fire station and 12 firefighters. Riverview has two stations and 21 firefighters.

If Jennings and Riverview they combine their efforts, officials say services including response times would not change.

"There is no plan, there never has been a plan for the Riverview Fire Protection District to annex the City of Jennings into our fire protection district with the intention of closing any firehouses," said Riverview Fire Chief Joe Bommarito.

The City of Jennings is in a budget crisis and cutting the fire department would save the city $750,000 a year. This action would get rid of a current quarter of a cent sales tax and would add a real estate tax.

For example, on a $50,000 home, taxes would increase about $20 a month.

"If we are going to raise taxes to help pay for the fire department, raise taxes and keep our own fire department, we don't need Riverview," said homeowner Robert Cotton, who thinks it's a bad gamble. "People are not paying property taxes. You've got absentee landlords, you've got absentee banks."

City officials say there isn't a better option, no additional tax that the City of Jennings could implement that would save enough money.

"If it saves the city money and the city can survive and be a city I'm all for it because I love Jennings," said David Kuchenmeister.

"You can't keep spending more than you are bringing in, something has got to give," said Jennings Fire Chief Joseph Zlotopolski.

Informational packets were handed out at Tuesday night's meeting asking residents if this doesn't pass, what services would they like to see reduced? Police officers? Parks and recreation or public works?

The vote is August 5.


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