Fire Department Denied Assessment Fee

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JACKSON COUNTY Jackson County property owners won't have to shell out additional money for fire services.

Tonight, Jackson County commissioners voted against a fire assessment fee. Commissioners say the fee would leave citizens in a bind.

For Jackson County Fire Chief Scott Birge, tonight didn't turn out as planned.

"Disappointed with the board a little bit, but we respect their decision."

During Tuesday night's Board of County Commissioners meeting, Birge requested a fire assessment fee from property owners to help improve fire services.

"Improvement to stations, we'll have better locations for response time,” he explained. “Improvement to equipment; more manning to respond to the fires. Much higher level of service then what we are presently providing."

Commissioner Jeremy Branch approved of the request, but the motion couldn't get a second.

"I felt like the way the economy is now currently tight and all now, you know, would kinda put a burden on a lot of people with assessments," said Commissioner Edward Crutchfield.

The ordinance would require property owners to pay a $50 fee. Right now funding for the fire services are provided through property and sales taxes. The county has four fire stations, all in need of upgrades.

"I do think that, you know, increasing fire and safety and all would be good, but I think at this time we need to look at what the citizens and people can afford" explained Crutchfield.

"And I know that the benefits that it would provide for the rest of the county---far outweigh that amount,” said Birge.

He also said the fire department will look for different ways to fund fire services.