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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Firefighters ask court for sales tax

Friday, June 21, 2002

Firefighters from rural fire departments in Fulton County filled the courtroom June 10 making their appeal to the Fulton County Quorum Court to place a 1/2-cent county-wide sales tax on the November ballot.Scott Hollo-way, chief of the Morriston Fire Department, told the quorum court that fire departments are faced with the age-old problem of inadequate funding.In the last several years, the number of rural fire departments in the county has increased from two to eight. Holloway said the rural departments have worked hard to establish a viable service for the communities. The establishment of six new departments reflects a true commitment to the rural residents, Holloway said.Fees are due to all the fire departments. Only 25 percent of the rural residents see fit to respond when due notices are mailed, Holloway said.The current dues run an average of $25 per year. "It's like pulling teeth to collect the dues," he said.The situation that plagues fire departments is 25 percent of the residents pay for 100 percent of the services rendered to the entire county. Municipalities are responding more frequently to fires in areas not covered by existing fire departments, and they collect no rural dues, Holloway ex-plained.The energy, time and monies spent on the preparation, copying and postage of dues letters and reminders would pay the utilities for most of the individual departments each year, said Holloway.If adequate funding could be provided to these departments in the form of a 1/2-cent sales tax, to be divided equally among the departments, this along with Act 833 funds and grants, would allow better communications, combat the rising threat of terrorism, and provide better equipment, training and certification of firefighters, which alone costs an average of $3,000 to $3,500 per individual, he said.It would further allow departments to grow and improve its emergency service capabilities, and provide more adequate fire protection.With adequate funding it would free the departments to promote fund-raisers for unfortunate residents who have suffered the loss of their home, an unseen medical emergency or a catastrophic event, he added.Holloway concluded by saying funding at its present level is becoming increasingly difficult to pay monthly bills. A major breakdown of equipment would all but shut the doors and render services useless until enough money could be raised for needed repairs.Fulton County Judge Curren Everett asked justices of the peace Larry Burns, Jim Bicker and Jerry Smith to meet with local fire departments to discuss the matter and report back to the quorum court before making a decision.In other action, Everett received a legislative alert from the Association of Arkansas Counties in Little Rock advising his office third round of state budget cuts had been made. He said it appeared no additional reduction in county aid, turnback money, will occur from the shortfall but he would have more information in about a week on how these cuts would effect Fulton County.Everett said Fulton has been hit hard with thieves stealing and destroying road signs. He wanted to remind the public a reward will be paid to those who help with the prosecution of suspects who have been taking the signs.The Fulton County Land Use Planning Committee met after quorum court and committee member Bob Wood explained to the newly appointed members the plan is designed to give residents control over their property.Wood said through the use of a land plan residents can set forth guidelines to help protect their property rights which is very similar to a grassroots effort.Committee member Howard Burris said it will be hard to get the public organized. Everett agreed saying that a total of eight members are ion the committee.Everett said he would like to see more landowners take an interest and become involved with the committee to help protect the history and culture of the community.

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