Morgan County Commission approves fire fee increase

November 18, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Fire fees in Morgan County will more than double beginning in July 2007.

The Morgan County Commission on Friday unanimously approved the fire protection service fee increase requested by the Morgan County Fire Board in May.

"This thing is way overdue," Commissioner Bob Ford said.

Sandy Kesecker, executive director of the fire board, said the average increase for a house of less than 2,000 square feet would be about $22 per year a jump from $21 to $43.

James Steiner, a member of the Berkeley Springs Fire Department and the fire board, said there has not been a fee increase in 18 years, but there has been an increase in call volume due to new homes and property owners in the county.


According to the fire board's statistics comparison document, 555 calls were received in 1990, and 1,310 calls were received in 2005.

"We need to justify what we are doing," Commission President Glen Stotler said. "You had the documentation that makes it easy to justify, and the documents were worthwhile to explain why the increase is needed. It is long overdue."

Steiner said volunteers have to spend many hours raising funds to operate the county's four volunteer fire departments. He said the number of volunteers has dropped off, and most volunteers have full-time jobs.

"We don't have the manpower," Steiner said.

There were 113 volunteers in the county in 2005, a decrease from the 157 volunteers in 1990, Kesecker said.

"We could never afford to pay firefighters, and we have a lot of good people volunteering their time," Stotler said.

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