KUNA, Idaho — The former assistant fire chief of Kuna Rural Fire District filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court claiming that he was fired because he voiced opposition to the levy that commissioners put on the ballot in November 2018.
In the suit, Terry Gammel names the fire district, the former fire chief and the district commissioners as defendants. Gammel claims that his right to due process was violated and the district retaliated against him, damaging his reputation and good name.
Gammel was fired on April 17. He had been hired as assistant fire chief in June 2015, according to a copy of the complaint.
The lawsuit revolves around the Kuna Rural Fire District’s levy request in November 2018 to increase its budget. It failed to pass with the needed two-thirds majority vote, garnering about 64 percent in favor. The levy asked for an additional $1.1 million a year and it would have cost taxpayers another $96 per $100,000 of taxable property value.
According to the lawsuit filed by Gammel, sometime before he was hired, Kuna Rural Fire District started providing its own ambulance services rather than relying on Ada County’s. Gammel claims that he was then asked by Fire Chief Perry Palmer in 2018 to be on a Tax Levy Review Committee that was discussing the option of a levy to increase income for the district.
“Mr. Gammel believed that when asking District residents to increase taxes through a levy to provide EMS, the District should be very transparent in explaining that the residents were paying taxes for ambulance services via an Ada County tax,” according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Gammel was told on April 11, 2019, that the district had “decided to go another way” with the assistant chief position and his employment would end the following week. He was given the option to resign and he declined, according to the claim.
The Idaho Statesman reached out to the Kuna Rural Fire District’s commission and its attorney Tuesday and did not receive a response.