A community activist contends the city of Little Rock is providing an unfair and possibly illegal subsidy of residential fire protection for the tiny city of Cammack Village, surrounded by the northwest portion of Little Rock. (It’s perhaps best known as a speed trap for unwary motorists.)

Dale Pekar, a retired economist and dedicated community activist (he’s among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the Interstate 30 expansion downtown), has written the Little Rock City Board about his research.

His letter to Board members, also shared with me:

As early as 2007 Cammack Village disbanded its fire department and entered into an agreement with Little Rock for fire protection services in exchange for a payment of $10,500 annually.  (See Cammack Village Resolution 2015 attached)

Little Rock agreed to extend the agreement on a year-to-year basis in 2015 per Section 11 “Term:  Termination of Agreement” provision in the “Little Rock – Cammack Village Agreement 2015” attachment.

This $10,500 payment is far less than Little Rock residents pay on a per capita basis for fire protection services which are ranked among the finest in the nation:  ISO Level 1.  No other fire department in Pulaski County comes close to this Level 1 distinction:  https://pulaskicounty.net/pulaski-county-fire-department-listings/
Cammack Village’s 800-odd residents thus pay about $13 per person for fire protection services while Little Rock residents pay about $244 per person based on 2017 General Fund expenditures of $48 million for the Little Rock Fire Department for the city’s 197,000 residents.

The agreement would also appear to be in violation of Little Rock’s Code of Ordinances, Sec 12-66(c)

The sole purpose of this section is to offer service to separate properties subject to fire damage, and the grouping of one (1) or more properties shall not be allowed for the purpose of this section. It is further declared to be the intent of the city to offer firefighting protection to industrial and commercial property only and no alarm for residential property outside the city limits will be answered by the fire department, and the chief of the fire department is hereby expressly prohibited from taking firefighting equipment outside city limits except pursuant to the provisions of this division; provided, however, fire alarms to public buildings supported and maintained by taxation and churches within the area shall be answered when in the judgment of the chief of the fire department firefighting equipment is not needed for fire protection within the city. [emphasis added]

(Code 1961, § 13-13; Ord. No. 15,092, § 1, 5-6-86)

https://library.municode.com/ar/little_rock/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=COOR_CH12FIPRPR

Please take action to either terminate or re-negotiate Little Rock’s agreement to provide fire protection services to Cammack Village.  If the agreement is found to be legal, please change the Municipal Code to correspond to the agreement.
If the agreement is to be re-negotiated, then a proportional annual contribution from Cammack Village would be on the order of $215,000, updated annually per the Little Rock City Budget.  This would still be an outstanding deal for Cammack Village as it is extremely difficult to fund fire protection services at an ISO Level 1–they could not be expected to replicate this degree of protection for even a million dollars.  Note also that the existing agreement stipulates that once LRFD is dispatched to a Cammack Village fire that it must remain there even if it becomes needed in Little Rock.
Pekar’s letter spurred a prompt reaction from City Director Joan Adcock. She forwarded it to City Manager Bruce Moore and Mayor Frank Scott Jr., among others, with this note:
Please answer this email and copy us on it, thank you
I thought we were just dispatching calls. This state they do not have a fire department.please also address the last sentence on this email. Thank you
It’s an interesting question, if nothing else. Mayor Scott just happened to walk past as I was reading about this. He said he’d not yet seen the Pekar letter or Adcock’s request for further information.