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Request for fire fee rate hike must be resubmitted

June 17, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The proposed fire fee rate increase the Morgan County Fire Board requested last month has to be resubmitted.

According to West Virginia law, before requesting an increase in fees and approval by the Morgan County Commission, the fire board must submit a formal resolution stating the increase and then present it to the commission, Morgan County Commission President Glen Stotler said.

At Friday's commission meeting, Stotler reviewed the legal opinion of Morgan County Attorney Debra McLaughlin, and said upon receiving the formal resolution from the fire board that the commission would submit an amendment with the new fire board fee.

A public notice would be published in the newspaper, with no public hearing required, Stotler said. If a petition with 30 percent of registered voters protesting the increase is received within 45 days of publication of the notice, it will be placed on the ballot by referendum and voted on in the general election or a special election.

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Sandy Kesecker, executive director of the Morgan County Fire Board, said the average yearly fire fee for a house less than 2,000 square feet would increase from $21 to $43. She said the bill from the fire board, which is based on the Morgan County assessor's records, is sent along with the property tax bill.

If the fire fee increase is approved, it would begin in fiscal year 2007-08, Kesecker said.

The all-volunteer county fire departments are working with fewer people, but have more calls due to the increase of new homes and property owners in the county, fire board Chairman Mark Miller has said.

The proposed increase would bring in $150,000 per year, and would reduce the hours spent by the volunteers to raise funds to operate the departments, Miller has said.

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