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Jefferson Co. officials to consider fire fee

December 17, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County officials are considering a fire fee to help county fire departments purchase additional equipment and pay for other needs, officials said Thursday.

A fire fee, which would be charged to each homeowner in the county, would help pay for additional equipment, like firetrucks, Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Corliss said.

The commissioners also are considering a law enforcement impact fee to help the sheriff's department pay for new equipment and facilities.

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Like the existing school impact fee, the law enforcement fee would be collected from home builders for each new home that is built.

The law enforcement impact fee also would be collected for new commercial business, the commissioners said.

A fire fee is preferred over a fire impact fee because fire fees can be used to pay for salaries, said Ed Smith, chief of the Independent Fire Co.

Fire officials need a way to pay for salaries for fire personnel if the county goes to a paid fire service, Smith said.

"To me, a fire fee would be a logical way to go," Corliss said at Thursday's commission meeting.

Although only a fire fee was mentioned Thursday, Corliss said he also supports a fire impact fee to help fire departments purchase equipment.

Any fire fee in the county would have to be approved by voters, Smith said.

At least 10 percent of the county's registered voters would have to request that the fee be placed on the ballot for consideration, Smith said.

Smith said fire officials are gathering more information on a fire fee and probably will ask the county commissioners to consider it.

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