Jackson County Moves Toward Implementing Property Assessments

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Marianna-Few people like the idea of a tax increase. But, some people in Jackson County are supporting the idea. Tuesday, county commissioners approved searching for a consulting firm to assess ways to improve Jackson County Fire and Rescue Services.

The firm would be tasked with investigating ways to improve Insurance Service Office (ISO) ratings, looking into the relocation of fire stations and exploring the possibility of implementing a county wide property assessment to fund the improvements.

County officials said beginning the search for a firm was the first step toward improving the County's services. As Jackson County Fire Marshal, Chuck Sawyer explained, the ISO rating somewhat ties together the three issue the firm would address.

"They look at that ISO rating for the area your house might be in and that's what sets your rate for your insurance" Sawyer explained of how ISO ratings. How well the stations are equipped, staffed and maintained are all factors that affect the county's rating.

"Jackson County is a large county and one of the biggest hits that we take is on some of the houses that are not within five miles of one of our stations" Sawyer said.

That was one reason station relocation became an issue commissioners felt a consulting firm should look into.

But, the issue of fire and rescue improvements itself has become something of a catch 22. Improving ISO scores would likely mean homeowners could save money on insurance. But, paying for the improvements would probably require implementing the property assessment.

Nothing as of Tuesday had been decided other than county commissioners would begin advertising for a consulting firm. Once they began accepting bids, the best bid would be taken before Jackson County Commissioners to vote on.

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