Darren Doyle, story:
For the first time in nearly three decades, fire dues are increasing for Edmonson County residents. The 20% increase from the $25 fee that has remained the same for nearly 25 years, according to local departments, passed in a unanimous vote at today's Edmonson County Fiscal Court meeting. Fire dues will increase $5 to $30 per property tax bill when the 2019 bills go out this November.
The discussion first arose during the May 28, 2019 fiscal court meeting when several local fire chiefs attended court in support of the increase. Some of the chiefs shared their respective department's specific needs and why the increase in dues was necessary.
At the previous fiscal court meeting, Judge Wil Cannon told the court that County Attorney Greg Vincent (who was unable to attend the May 28th meeting due to district court scheduling conflicts) requested each county fire department: Lincoln, Kyrock, Bear Creek, Brownsville, Chalybeate, Rocky Hill, and Chalybeate submit bank statements, a financial statement, and other records that could show each respective department's state of financial affairs; however, County Attorney Vincent told the Edmonson Voice today that Judge Cannon misunderstood. Vincent said he only advised the fiscal court to request the information from the fire departments, but since that the county attorney had no vote in the matter, he had no reason to request it.
During the last meeting, Treasurer Tammi Willhite said not all departments had submitted the requested information so no vote was held; however, she presented the following documentation to magistrates and Judge Cannon, which were copies of each department's current financials and plans for the additional revenue the dues increase would bring.
One resident asked Judge Cannon why the increase was needed if the expenses shown on the documentation were lower than the revenue received from each department. Cannon explained so each department could make much needed upgrades to their trucks, equipment, and other gear.
During the vote, Magistrate Corey Vanmeter said "I had a three old that was choking one time. When you need the fire department to come, whether it's $30 or $30,000, you'll pay it," as he voted 'yes.' All magistrates voted the same.
“I know a lot of people may be upset but they need the funding," said Judge Executive Wil Cannon. "Fiscal court says ‘thank you’ and they work really work hard at this. We hope that the additional income is spent wisely and it brings you the help you need,” he said to the fire department representatives that were in attendance.