Commission looks at volunteer fire department funding

Published 1:32 pm Thursday, March 28, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission heard an appeal from volunteer firefighters for more input on how tax revenues are distributed to volunteer fire departments at Monday’s regular commission meeting.

The commission also learned about a free program to give first responders the important medical history of victims at the scene of medical emergencies, heard about a new flea market to feature 100 vendors and approved a lease of space at the Hayneville Plaza among other actions.

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“Right now we have dedicated volunteers in this county and the only real revenue we have right now is the ad valorem tax,” Rodney Rudolph of the Lowndes County Fire Association said.

However, “We have departments that are responding (to fire calls) and some that are not,” he pointed out.

“We have no say so at this current time as to what revenues go where,” Rudolph said.

“We’re just asking that you consider when you’re giving out the ad valorem tax to these different departments that it be a joint effort between the County Commission and the fire association,” he said.

County Commissioner Brenson Crenshaw pointed out that Braggs gets the same amount as Fort Deposit, but Fort Deposit makes more runs and takes more funds  to operate than other departments.

Lamar Hall of the Burkville Volunteer Fire Department said Lowndes County was the only one he was aware of where the money was distributed on an equal basis. “The county association of fire departments always has input,” he said.

The “goal is not to put anyone out,” Dennis Blair of the Lowndesboro Volunteer Fire Department said. “We need more people in.”

However, Blair said of Lowndesboro’s last six calls, four were in other areas where the local department did not show up.

The commission took no action on the matter, but asked the volunteer firefighters to provide some guidelines as to how the funds should be distributed.

In a matter also related to emergency first responders, the commission was asked to join the Yellow Dot Program currently participated in by in by 52 Alabama counties.

“Yellow Dot is designed to equip emergency responders with all the pre-existing medical history on an individual when they arrive on the scene of a crash or any other medical emergency,” Lora Weaver, Yellow Dot program director for Alabama said.

“It will also provide emergency contact information so that the family can be notified as to what’s happened to the individual and where they are going to be transported,” she said.

She said all of the Yellow Dot components — a folder, decal, and the medical information sheet with photo attached — are provided to the counties free of charge as well as printers and cameras to produce photos.

It is all funded through the Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, she said.

In another matter, Alex Taylor from the BP at Highway 80 and 21 corner told the commission that on April 6, he will start a flea market that will allow small business owners to start their own business.

He said he expects to have over 100 vendors.

“I am here to ask your support as my commissioners,” he said.

Taylor said he will rent 10-foot by 10-foot spaces for $10 per day in order for him to clean the area and provide security.

In actions taken, the commission voted to table approval of construction at the Hayneville Plaza until the next meeting.

However, the commission voted unanimously to lease 800 square foot of space at the Hayneville Plaza to Legal Services Corporation of Alabama at a rate of $1.61 per square foot.

Under the consent agenda, the commission approved appropriations to Calico Fort of $2,500, to Mid South RC&D of $2,000, $1,000 to the town of Fort Deposit and $500 to the Black Belt Community Center and a resolution to correct the county’s sales tax calculation.