Fire dues hard to collect

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Many fail to pay share for protective services

By Brandon Mattingly



Fiscal court held a regular scheduled meeting on Friday and local fire department dues were at the head of discussions.

Willisburg Fire Chief Jesse Carney and Bobby Lee Russell of the Mackville Fire Department presented petitions to have community dues be collected by the sheriff department as part of the tax bill starting in 2013. They also requested that dues costs be raised from their current rate of $25 per year to $45.

“We’re only collecting about 50 percent of our dues,” Carney said. “It’s really getting tough to make it on that. Our dues are too cheap at $25, but we thought if we raised the price more people would stop paying.”

Carney and Russell agreed that not enough members of the community have been making payments for services that are shared by everyone.

“What aggravates me more than anything is that most of them that don’t pay us are the ones that have money to do it,” Carney said. “Some of the older people that are on fixed income and just barely getting by, their percentage gets paid.”

“It’s not really fair that a small portion are paying for the benefits that the whole district is getting,” Russell added. “We’re in the same boat (as Willisburg). The ones that can’t afford it are the ones who pay. I had a guy offer to weed-eat around the firehouse to offset paying the dues. I admire him for wanting to help, but then you’ve got people worth a million dollars and they don’t pay.”

Now that an official petition has been made, each department will have 30 days to hold a public hearing on the issue, likely in their respective communities. Following a public hearing, the court will have another 30 days to hold a vote to resolve the issue. Approving the requests would put the entire county on the same due-collection method, along with the Washington County Fire Protection Association.


Million Lane update

Russell and Steve McIntosh were also selected as viewers for the Million Lane request from last month. Russell and McIntosh will visit Million Lane and decide if altering the road will cause any disruption to traffic. If they, and Washington County Road Supervisor Dale Mann, determine that discontinuing the approximately 150-foot section as a county road will not cause any problems, the court will take action at the next regular scheduled meeting on June 11.


Repairs put on hold

The court held a vote on whether to accept one of two bids for repair of the back porch roof of the judge’s office. Coulter Building Corporation’s bid of $2,800 was the low bid, but a 4-2 vote by the magistrates resulted in the court deciding to consider other options.

Magistrates Hal B. Goode and Morris Sweazy voted to accept the bid, while Benjamin Settles, Terry Tingle, Billy Riney, Jr. and Greg Simms sided with looking for more options.

“I think we ought to get somebody else to look at it,” Riney said. “It just seems to me like the bids are too high.”


Other news

St. Catharine College President William D. Huston was officially named to the SWEDA board on Friday and will begin serving as a member on July 1.

“Bill has been very faithful in his attendance (to SWEDA meetings),” said John Settles, Washington County Judge Executive, “but not only that, his insights of the larger picture about development because of his background with the college will be very valuable.”

The county recently received the $211,000 reimbursement that the state had been expected to grant for the replacement of the bridge on Tick Creek Road.

The court addressed the six-month review of custodian Felix Keene on Friday, deciding to make him a full-time employee, effective June 1.

Judge Settles also announced that there will be a CDBG public hearing on June 6 at 10 a.m. at the judge’s office and that Washington County High School will host a rabies clinic on June 28.

 All magistrates were in attendance.