The statute relating to fire protection districts says at RSMo §321.120 that the form of ballots shall be as follows:
Shall there be incorporated a fire protection district?
However you should not blindly follow this form. In 1980 the voters
of Missouri adopted an amendment to the constitution known as the
Hancock Amendment. That amendment requires voter approval of each tax
increase or new form of taxation.
The Hancock amendment may mean that any fire protection district
that wants to have a tax will have to put up to the voters a second
proposition relating to the maximum tax levy. The form of that question
might be as follows:
Shall the ___________________Fire Protection
District have authority to impose an ad valorem
property tax at the rate of_______per $100
The submission of two questions to the voters can result in the
voters agreeing to form the district, but refusing to pay the taxes
necessary to operate the district. Similarly they could approve the tax
but disapprove of the district. This has led to some fire protection
districts to combine the questions into a single one to be voted upon
at one time, or to otherwise attempt to simplify the issues for the
A researcher at the University of Missouri conducted a study in 1986
of ways various fire protection districts had reacted to the Hancock
Amendment and reported that of the 34 districts studied, approximately
16 had presented only the first question to the voters and had ignored
the Hancock Amendment. For these districts the legality of subsequent
taxes is doubtful. The best alternative is to present voters with two
separate ballot issues and with two separate boxes for yes and no. Some
FPD’s had presented two questions with one set of boxes, and others had
combined the two questions into a single proposition with a single set
of boxes for voting yes or no.
The proper way how to do this has not been litigated up to the
appellate courts. I am aware of one circuit court decision that says
having a combined question with only one set of boxes is improper.
It seems to me that the safest way to avoid litigation would be to choose to have two questions and two sets of boxes.