Freeport Officials trying to Raise Funds for City Fire Department

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Freeport City Officials said money and manpower were the biggest reasons they considered handing over the fire department to Walton County.

The county had agreed to hire the city's seven firefighters, and even build a new station house.

But city officials changed their minds.

Now they have to come up with more than $500,000 to fund the department for the next fiscal year.

"This is something new, but we are working with different departments to try to come up with our budget, and we want to do the best for the city and our citizens and we want to have good fire protection,” said Janice McLean, President of the Freeport City Council.

City Council members took money from the Streets and Parks and Recreation department to give the fire department enough money.

They also cut funding for some volunteers and part-time employees.

But Mayor Russ Barley says they can't keep doing that.

Both council members and fire officials are looking for alternative funding sources.

"The problem is just trying to find the need for funding that,” said Mayor Barley. “You can't keep taking money from all the other departments-just to run the fire department, even though it is very important."

Freeport Fire Chief Chad Harrell said the department is willing to make the cuts, to keep the station in Freeport.

Fire Chief Harrell says his department is also working with the planning department on some ways to raise money.

Mayor Barley says the city has applied for grants, but they have not heard back yet.