Two candidates are vying for one District 1 seat on the Pettis County Fire Protection District Board of Directors, Harold Ream and Tim Padgett, who is also running for the Pettis County Ambulance District Board of Directors Subdistrict 1 position. Terms are six years. Each candidate filled out a questionnaire about their candidacy. Answers may have been edited for length.
Why are you running for office?
Tim Padgett: “To serve the citizens of Pettis County and to help make the fire district the best it can be.”
Harold Ream: “Serving as a PCFPD board member is my way of giving back to the community. Effective fire protection is vital for a thriving community. I am proud of our dedicated firefighters and the department we have become over the last 40 years. I want to continue to be a part of an exceptional fire department and serve the District’s taxpayers. I have seen the department grow from a single 500-gallon fire truck to the department it is today. We have faced and met many challenges in the past, and I hope to help guide the department in meeting future challenges.”
What are your qualifications?
Padgett: “Over 10 years with fire and EMS. Started my career as a volunteer firefighter with PCFD, went up through the ranks of lieutenant. I’m a Missouri Firefighter 1 and 2 and Missouri Fire Service Instructor 1, along with other certificates related to the fire and EMS field.”
Ream: “I understand state laws, regulations and state auditor recommendations relating to the operation of a tax-supported fire district. My financial management and budgeting experience in business and farming helps me meet the challenge of balancing revenue against capital expenditures and operating expenses for the fire district.
“I served as a firefighter in the early years of the district. After becoming one of PCFPD’s first board of directors in 1976, I attended director training at the University of Missouri Fire School. In addition, I attended grant writing training for fire districts and successfully wrote and received a FY 2009 FEMA grant for $49,272 for the Fire District.
“My background in computer programming has allowed me to develop a website to give public access to board minutes and other information about the District. I have also written programs for PCFPD to convert personnel, training, incident, and other paper records into online electronic format. Together, these programs reduce the time required to report our incidents to National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) by half.”
What do you think are some top issues facing the Pettis County Fire Protection District that need to be addressed soon?
Padgett: “I feel the district has the potential to grow and it needs to be given the chance to grow and better itself.”
Ream: “The District needs to develop and approve a long-term financial plan which will allow us to replace aging equipment and purchase close to $7 million of replacement vehicles over the next 12 to 15 years. The district has a fleet of more than 20 vehicles. Brush firefighting trucks cost more than $30,000 each, while front line pumpers and tankers cost close to $400,000 each. Accomplishing this vehicle replacement, paying operating expenses, and other smaller capital expenditures with annual tax revenue of less than $600,000 will be a challenge.”
How would you address the growth of the department as the county need continues to grow? What is lacking in the department that would need to be addressed to help the district grow?
Padgett: “I believe greatly in training and taking care of the citizens of Pettis County as well as the firefighters. I feel by providing the first responders with the correct tools and proper training that it will increase the effectiveness of the department and better serve the citizens in a safe and effective manner.”
Ream: “Over time, I expect the need for tax-supported fire protection within Pettis County will grow. Many smaller departments currently operate on revenue from subscription fees, donations, and fundraisers. It is difficult for them to purchase new equipment with their limited resources. To meet their financial needs, one option these departments may consider is annexation into an existing district.
“If asked, PCFPD would consider voluntary annexation petitions from property owners outside of our District. If new territory is annexed into PCFPD, additional equipment, fire stations, and/or personnel might be needed to maintain the district’s ISO rating and improve the ISO rating of any annexed area.”
What goals do you have for office if you are elected?
Padgett: “Some of the goals I have is to make sure all the gear and equipment is up to date and training is on par to better serve the citizens of Pettis County and possibly look at implementing some mentoring programs for students interested in the fire service field.”
Ream: “I would like to see us provide additional training and benefits for our volunteer firefighters. We work closely with other fire departments in Pettis County and surrounding areas. I think it would be beneficial for the District to consider construction of a training facility for all volunteer firefighters in this area.
“Response time is critical in the event of an emergency. The District should consider a manned fire station in its future plans to enable faster initial response time and provide better protection for life and property.”
Why should people vote for you?
Padgett: A response was not submitted for this question.
Ream: “I believe in spending taxpayer money wisely while being mindful of firefighter safety and equipment replacement. In 2016 our tax levy is $.2791 per $100 assessed value which is less than the $.30 per $100 authorized when the district was formed in 1976.
“I will support recruitment, retention and additional training and benefits for our long-term volunteers. I would also encourage any taxpayer of the district to contact me with any constructive thoughts or concerns about the district.”