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Fire fee, new jobs in Jefferson Co. emergency plan

56-page proposal projects the agency's fiscal 2012 budget at nearly $2.7 million

January 27, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Three new administrators, nine full-time, paid firefighters and emergency service personnel and first-time, countywide fire-service fees are part of a five-year strategic plan to improve emergency services in Jefferson County.

The plan was presented to county commissioners Thursday by the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency.

The 56-page proposal, drafted by a private consultant for $30,000, projects the agency's fiscal 2012 budget at nearly $2.7 million.

JCESA, which is funded by the county commission, impact fees and grants, is the umbrella agency that oversees the county's seven volunteer fire companies.

It was established by the county commission in November 2008 with the powers of a fire board and emergency ambulance authority. In May, it moved into its new $1.2 million, 6,700 square-foot operations center in Ranson, W.Va.

The agency's proposed three new administrative positions outlined in the strategic plan — full-time training coordinator/recruitment officer, operations manager and part-time government liaison officer — require a total salary cost of $155,000 a year plus benefits. The nine full-time paid firefighter/EMS personnel would cost about $383,000 over five years, according to the plan.

Last week, the commissioners considered a motion to hire a full-time chief financial officer and human resources director for the county government for a combined salary of around $117,000 a year plus benefits.

The strategic plan "focuses on the JCESA's duty, as an agent of the Jefferson County Commission, to sustain and strengthen the county's fire and EMS services by retaining and deploying qualified career (paid) staff to augment the county's volunteer fire and EMS services," according to a summary in the 56-page document.

If the county commissioners decide to enact a fire fee the hiring of an operations manager would also be necessary, according to the plan. Another $50,000 to $75,000 would be needed to upgrade the existing software system to a Web-based model that would link all seven fire departments.

The plan also recommends that JCESA work with the county's planning and zoning departments to enforce the West Virginia Building Code on the installation of residential sprinkler systems.

According to the plan, the total revenue from fire and ambulance fees for both taxable and exempt properties would be about $3.4 million a year.

The commissioners favored many parts of the proposal and will review it again before making any decisions.

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