Johnson County leaders approve plans to consolidate local fire district

Kansas News

OLATHE, Kan. — Big changes are underway for fire stations in southern Johnson County. On Thursday, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners approved two plans to consolidate Fire District #2. 

Under one of the approved agreements, Fire District #1 will take over fire and rescue services to the portion of District #2 located west of Lackman Road, including a portion of the City of Spring Hill and a portion of northern Miami County.

The agreement will go in effect at 8 a.m. Nov. 28 and continue through Dec. 31, 2022.  

Jim Francis, chief of Fire District #2, said planning the consolidation process took roughly two years to complete. 

“The district still has its own tax levy. The district still has its own bond levy. It’s totally separate from fire district #1. The governing body of fire district #2 remains the same,” Francis said.

This agreement will move 20 employees from District #2 to District #1 to ensure there is enough staff to cover the area. District #2 will pay for 22 fire service positions, but two of those positions are currently vacant.

Following a large annexation by the city of Overland Park in 2008, Fire District #2 entered into a 15-year agreement with the city to serve the new territory. That agreement is set to expire at the end of 2022. According to county documents, the expiration of this agreement could result in Fire District #2 losing up to $1,350,000 in annual revenue. 

The city of Overland Park is wrapping up construction on a new fire station at 12301 W. 175th Street, that will soon service the portion of the city currently served by Fire District #2.  The new fire station is expected to be complete by the end of the year. 

Through an agreement between Fire District #2 and Overland Park, the Overland Park Fire Department will take over day-to-day operations for the district territory east of Lackman Road.

That agreement will go into effect at 8 a.m. Nov. 28 and renew automatically each year contingent on approval from the county commission. That agreement is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2032.

“Overland Park Fire, whether we are out of your station or our station, will be covering a squared off area and making sure that the appropriate economics that are funding that is correctly applied,” Overland Park Fire Chief Bryan Dehner said. 

Fire District #2 is currently under contract to service roughly 72 square miles within Miami County Fire District #2 until the end of 2022. Overland Park has agreed to fulfil the contractual agreement for the district. Any service agreements beyond 2022 will be negotiated by the Overland Park Fire Department and Miami County leaders. 

“We will pay for 21 positions to ensure adequate staffing for the existing station at 19120 Metcalf and the existing station at 18475 Mission Road. Overland Park is opening a new station in the coming weeks at 120301 W. 175th Street,” Francis said. 

Francis says MED-ACT services will not change under the new coverage agreement. 

“There is a financial protection clause in this fire district,” Francis said. “In this contract with Overland Park, should Overland Park do any large scale annexations in the future of developed property, there is a clause in this contract that provides the citizens of Fire District #2 some financial protection.”

Under the contract the City of Overland Park can annex into Fire District #2 at no cost. However, if in the previous year the annexed property had a 2 percent assessed evaluation total of the area served by the City of Overland Park (property east of Lackman Road), the Overland Park City Manager and the Deputy County Manager would renegotiate the funding for the agreement.  

Fire District #2’s existing fire station at 19065 Lackman Road will close when the new Overland Park fire station opens later this year.

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