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Rural fire protection concerns raised at Troy board meeting

Rural fire protection concerns raised at Troy board meeting

Posted: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 9:30 pm
By: Donna Ryder, Associate Editor

By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
Troy Mayor Jimmie Hart doesn’t like some of the things in the county-wide rural fire agreement contract presented from Obion County to the towns for approval.
He told members of the board of aldermen Monday night he’s ready to present items he’s been working on to the fire chiefs and town mayors.
Alderman Jesse White-sides said the towns have been working on this plan for a long time now and “it’s apparent that Obion County is not wanting to fund fire departments the way some of the surrounding counties do.”
He said he hopes an agreement can be worked out because their friends and neighbors outside the city limits need fire protection. He agreed the contract “needs to be tweaked.”
One of the items Hart disagrees with is the county charging a 5 percent collection fee from the subscriptions being called for in the plan. Hart told Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire, who was at the meeting for another purpose, that the county should not charge the fee “since we’re doing something for the county for nothing.”
McGuire said he didn’t think the county commission would agree to waive the fee. He said the trustee currently gets 2 percent of the property taxes she collects in order to run her office. That figure was used, with an additional 3 percent added for postage, to come up with the 5 percent.
McGuire said he also wasn’t sure the county commission would be willing to pay the estimated $15,000 the fee is expected to generate directly to the trustee’s office to avoid a reduction in the amount of money going to the fire departments.
“I don’t think the county will ever contribute to the fire department,” Hart said, with McGuire responding, “I wouldn’t go that far.”
McGuire said if the collection rate ever got to 80 percent on the subscription plan, he thinks the county commission would consider a fire tax for residents outside the city limits. He said they would just have to take it one step at a time “do it slow and see where to go with it.”
Alderman Gene Gurien said he doesn’t think it will work unless it’s mandatory.
McGuire said the county thinks at least 70 percent of property owners out in the county will participate the first year.
Alderman Ralph Wheat-ley said he thought it would be worth it for them to participate because their insurance rates should go down. But, McGuire said some rural areas are so far away from fire stations that it wouldn’t make a difference.
Plus, Fire Chief Mark Watson said insurance is so competitive in this county that some insurance companies are already offering rates to customers outside city limits based on inside city limit rates. Therefore, they are already receiving the reduced rate.
McGuire said that may change if a subscription is offered because some insurance companies may go up on their premiums if the property owner does not purchase the subscription.
Wheatley then asked about the addition of fire hydrants in the rural areas, but McGuire said the water lines will not support them.
Watson said it seems like things are moving forward on the plan. He said the fire chiefs would like to have the county-wide coverage, “but this is a stepping stone. We’re glad we’re moving forward on it.”
In other business, the board:
• Donated $1,000 to Troy Community Club to purchase trophies for Troy Community Involvement Days, which will be held July 16-17.
• Granted McGuire permission to use City Park for a Democratic political rally June 24. He said free cornbread and white beans will be served.
• Approved on third and final reading an amendment to an ordinance which calls for the board meetings to be held the first and third Mondays of each month at 5 p.m.
• Learned a 15-foot section of sewer line had to be replaced.
• Was informed the old maintenance building has been torn down and the void left from the removal of concrete has been filled. The town will now build up the ground level about 12 inches before a concrete pad for the new building is poured. Hart said it takes about eight weeks to get the building, so it should be ready by late summer or early fall.
• Heard the town will bid gas line relocation on the I-69 project separate from the water and sewer line relocation.
• Discussed the financial statements, including the fact that Hart cashed in some CDs which came due in order to have money in the checking accounts after paying off loans in the water fund. Hart said money will be needed in the gas fund to pay for the new maintenance building. He added money can also be loaned from one department to another within the town if the need arises.
• Decided to utilize the services of the town’s dog catcher again. He can work a couple of days a week or on an as-needed basis, Hart said.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at dryder@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.4.10

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