Indiana legislation heading into a conference committee today in Indianapolis seeks to add more protections for fire protection districts that could have part of their territories annexed by nearby municipalities.

The proposed bill would not prevent cities from annexing territory in fire protection districts. It would, however, help annexed properties in many of those fire districts remain a part of the district, including properties in newly added areas of the district.

“Under Senate Bill 603, if you live in the fire district now, the fire district will always be your fire and emergency services provider,” Monroe Fire Protection District Fire Chief Dustin Dillard said.

All three state lawmakers representing Bloomington were appointed to the bill’s conference committee.

State Rep. Jeff Ellington, R-Bloomington, said the bill protects the investments residents made to have fire protection services in more rural areas of the county. This includes paying taxes to build a fire station. In addition, it ensures fire protection districts can still operate effectively even after a municipality annexes a portion of its territory. Lost territory for a fire district generally causes a loss of revenue.

"We don’t do this with water companies. We do not do this with school districts,” Dillard said. “Once infrastructure is in place and is strategically located for the citizens it serves, it is not affected by annexation. Why should fire protection and the massive amount of infrastructure, critical infrastructure, be any different?”

Ellington said the bill also deters city officials from incorporating property simply to increase revenue.

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