Chris Cooper Managing Editor
January 20, 2014
Fire dues were a side discussion at last week’s Logan County fiscal court meeting when several fire departments were in attendance to discuss the Corinth substation project. Somehow talks took a turn towards a possibility of placing fire dues on the county’s property tax bills each year. This would not be a tax, but a different way departments could collect and the community could pay the voluntary dues.
Rural fire departments depend on voluntary fire dues each year from the citizenry within their fire districts. The charges are usually between $35-$45 per year. If a property owner pays their dues and needs assistance from the department, they will not be charged any additional fees. However, if a property owner does not pay their dues and needs assistance, they could be charged up to $500.
Fire chiefs Cheryl Allen (Russellville Rural) and Jim Kutzman (Auburn Rural) both agreed it is hard collecting the dues which go towards their annual budgets.
Placing the dues on the tax bill each year would help a great deal in collection, agrees most all fire departments in the county. This is actually not a new concept as many communities fire departments already collect in this fashion. The idea has also been kicked around for years by Logan’s rural departments.
This would still be a voluntary contribution individual property owners would make despite appearing on the bill. If voted on and approved by the fiscal court, the dues would be paid up front along with the taxes, and then if the property owner wanted, they could opt out and get their money returned.
“This would not be a tax, just another avenue we have to help collect the dues,” said Allen.
By placing the dues on the tax bill, the departments could see a huge increase in revenues simply because it is an easier way for property owners to give the contribution. This would allow growth in the department to better serve the communities they protect.
“I would be glad to vote to put this on the tax bill if y’all get together and come and see us,” said magistrate Jo Orange at the Tuesday, Jan. 14 court meeting speaking to the fire departments that were at the meeting.
Magistrate Thomas Bouldin agreed with Orange. He challenged all fire chiefs to get together and make sure this was something they all wanted to do, and then to meet with Judge Executive Logan Chick on the issue and then bring it back to the court for a vote.
Nothing was officially decided upon at the Tuesday meeting, however, all magistrates (Russell Poore was absent) seemed to warm up to the idea.