Letter to the Editor - Aug. 17

August 17, 2013

Fire tax might not be best funding option

To the editor:

This correspondence is in regard to some of the topics discussed in the editorial published on Aug. 13, “Fire Panel should keep options open.” The article touched on some main points facing emergency services operations in Washington County, mainly the required funding to maintain services provided by our fire departments and emergency medical service organizations.

It certainly should be understood that the emergency servi-ces for Washington County cannot continue without some influx of financial resources to assist in maintaining and improving operations to provide service to the communities. One of the major objectives of the fire-plan committee is to try to develop a strategy to accomplish this goal in a systematic way that is achievable in the best interests of the companies and the citizens of the county.

Imposing a fire tax could be one of the options that the county may decide to implement to provide funding resources to bring about this goal, but that may not be the best option as an end result to increase funding to the emergency services.

A neighboring county just recently opted to do away with their fire tax and fund resources for emergency options in a different manner. The statement that was made was that we understand that increased revenue was going to be needed to fund the requests of the emergency service companies to maintain and improve emergency options, but we are not proposing a fire tax to implement that goal. It would be up to the County Commissioners and administration along with the recommendations of the committee on how and when new funding would and could be implemented.

In regard to the financial reporting of the fire and rescue companies, all of the organizations now file reports with the county government and the IRS, reporting income and expenditures. There are no closed books in regard to company operations by our member companies. Also, the association is in the process of working with the Department of Finance of Washington County in developing an updated process for financial reports to the county.

Dale L. Hill
Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association

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