Special Districts

Fire Districts and Service Areas

Rural Improvement District Frequently Asked Questions

Rural Improvement Districts

(PDF, 98KB)2023/2024 Approved RID Snow Plow Contractor List

Fire Districts/Service Areas

The Board of County Commissioners may establish and govern Fire Districts through MCA TITLE 7. LOCAL GOVERNMENT, CHAPTER 33. FIRE PROTECTION, Part 21. Rural Fire Districts.

Fire District Policies and Procedures

The Board of County Commissioners is authorized to establish fire districts in any unincorporated territory upon presentation of a petition in writing signed by the owners of 40% or more of the real property in the proposed district and owners of property representing 40% or more of the taxable value of property in the proposed district.

After the board of county commissioners establishes a fire district, the commissioners:

(1) may contract with a city, town, private fire company, or other public entity to furnish all fire protection services for property within the district; or
(2) shall appoint five qualified trustees to govern and manage the fire district.

Generally, the Commission chooses to allow trustees to govern and manage the district. In addition, the trustees of a fire district generally enter into contracts for fire protection services of a volunteer fire department.

Many of the Rural Fire Districts and Fire Service Areas have mutual aid agreements that allow assistance between entities- providing better service to our residents.

Rural Fire Districts receive funding through mill levy elections (15-10-420)

Water and Sewer Districts

Water & Sewer Districts are governed by Montana Code Annotated
Title 7, Chapter 13, Parts 22 and 23

Water and Sewer District Policies and Procedures

Once incorporated, the District becomes its own legal entity, governed by a Board of Directors who must abide by these statutes.

The creation of a district requires a petition to create the district (7-13-2204).

Once the petition has been submitted and verified the Board of County Commissioners must hold a hearing and determine:

  1. The petition meets the provisions of the statute (7-13-2206)
  2. Define the boundaries based upon benefiting criteria (7-13-2208)

If the petition meets the provisions and the boundaries are determined, the Commission must then call for an election (unless all property owners have signed the petition).

If the electors of the district vote to incorporate the district, the Board of Directors shall hold its first meeting on the sixth Monday after the first general election after the election of the board of directors.

Each water and sewer district is it's own entity, and not owned or operated by the County. Please contact your respective water and sewer district for any questions or concerns.


Rural Improvement Districts

The creation of a Rural Improvement District is regulated by both Montana State Statute (Title 7, Chapter 12, Part 21) and guided by County Rural Improvement District Policy and Procedures(PDF, 2MB)(established in 1996), as a mechanism to help property owners self-fund various projects provided for in the statute.

(PDF, 98KB)2023/2024 Approved RID Snow Plow Contractors List(PDF, 98KB)

Rural Improvement District Policies and Procedures

The Special Districts Coordinator will assist residents in creating Rural Improvement Districts: Creating Petitions, Resolutions, Notices, Cost Estimates, Informational Meetings, and Coordinating County Departments

The Board of County Commissioners has statutory authority to create a District using the statutes set forth in Montana Code Annotated.

County Policy requires the proponents of the district to circulate a petition and acquire signatures representing 20% of the lots, tracts or parcels to be included within the proposed district.

Petition must include:

  • Desired level of service to be performed by the District
    • County Public Works will assist with cost estimates
  • Properties benefiting from improvements/maintenance (to be included within the boundaries of the proposed District)
  • Estimated cost of improvement/maintenance for each lot, tract or parcel

After the Petition is submitted:

  • Special Districts Coordinator will verify the petition for accuracy and content
  • A Resolution of Intention (unless all property owners sign petition) will be submitted to the Commission for consideration
  • If the Commission declares their intent to create the district, a protest period is held for a period of not less than 30 days
  • Protest may be submitted according to statute 7-12-2109

Action after Insufficient Protest to bar Proceedings:

  • Public Hearing before Board of County Commissioners
  • Resolution of Creation is presented to the Commission for their consideration

If Commission Creates District:

  • A Public Hearing is held on the proposed Levying and Assessing of properties within the District
  • A Resolution to Levy and Assess is presented and considered by the Commission


Rural Improvement District Funding

Rural Improvement Districts; Improvements, as defined in MCA 7-12-4102, may be made using local funds, the State of Montana InterCap Loan Program or Bonds, when appropriate. Debt shall be repaid through assessments placed upon property tax bills.

A maintenance fund for a Rural Improvement District is authorized through Title 7 Chapter 12, Part 2161

The Commission may set the maintenance budget for Districts once per year, prior to the first Monday in September, for the purpose of repairing, maintaining or preserving the improved road.





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