An ordinance that would raise the cost of fire dues in Warren County passed its first reading yesterday. The ordinance would increase fire dues $20 per year for county residents.
"This funding will allow us to be able to keep up with equipment needs, in order for us to be able to maintain, or possibly improve our insurance ratings," said Warren Co. Fire Chiefs Assoc. Bob Skipper.
"If we don't have the proper funding for all of our volunteer fire departments, and if they don't have the adequate trucks, the adequate people to get there, to be able to stop these fire faster," said Tony Rhoades State Farm Agent's Blake Ayers.
"The difference between five, and possibly even 10 minutes in their response time could mean the difference of $100,000 worth of damage that we could save," said Tony Rhoades State Farm Agent's Kyle Woosley.
Skipper says the county has about a 98 percent collection rate. Although paying the dues is an option, he says all calls for help will be answered regardless of the dues payment.
"If they disagree with this and they want to opt out, they can do it before the tax bills are printed, and they won't have all these other steps to go through," said Skipper.
Skipper says if you opt out, you could pay a fee for each run a department makes to your home. Ayers says their company cannot tell if a client pays the fire dues unless a department responds to a fire.
"We pay for the service charge fee for the fire department to come out there. To put a number on that is hard to do. Those can all be different, but also what comes with that is that if that goes up because people aren't paying their dues, That cost is going to have to be recuperated somewhere. So if the insurance company has doubled costs of service charges, the insurance is going to go up for people in the county," said Ayers.
So now residents can choose to weigh those costs if the ordinance passes. The ordinance passed its first reading by a vote of four to two. Now it must pass a second reading on July 26 before it goes into effect.