There’s a lot of talk behind the scenes concerning Cass County Fire District No.1.

The fire board chairwoman, Bridget Enyeart, said last week she had been involved in talks with Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin and others concerning the district’s future.

And then at Thursday’s fire board meeting, County Councilman Brent Kelley suggested that the district might not need a $368,000 loan after all. He declined to elaborate.

Just a word of caution. We understand that officials might not want to hammer out details of any agreement through the news media. Negotiations will likely work better if carried out face to face. Nevertheless, it’s important that the public not be kept in the dark.

The last thing anyone should want is for the resolution to the fire district’s budget woes to be rolled out and voted on at the same meeting. Local taxpayers should have a chance to learn about the details and react to them before local officials give the arrangement their stamp of approval.

Let’s not forget what landed the fire district in this predicament in the first place. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance rejected the district’s budget for lack of a public hearing.

Frankly, the district has been hampered from the beginning by a lack of public input.

The district came about after the trustees of Clay, Eel and Noble townships asked the county commissioners to form it. Before the fire board had even been appointed, commissioners had approved an ordinance laying out many of the details, including a four-year commitment for fire protection from the New Waverly Fire Department.

That means the fire district really isn’t in a position to be negotiating with other fire departments. It’s under contract with New Waverly through the end of 2014.

Sherman Kantzer, the former fire board chairman who is now a candidate for county commissioner, says the county has an obligation to help the fire district meet its expenses. He says it was the county council, after all, that failed to hold the required public hearing on the district’s budget.

The fact is, though, that most Cass County taxpayers don’t live in the fire district.

Maybe there is a way to save fire district taxpayers from paying interest on a loan. It’s important, though, that those living outside the district not end up on the hook for someone else’s fire protection.

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