Commission to consider proposal for VFD funding

Published 10:25 am Thursday, May 16, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission will take a proposal for the distribution of ad valorem taxes to the county’s volunteer fire departments under advisement.

Rodney Rudolph of the Lowndes County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments presented the proposal at Monday’s regular commission meeting.

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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,” Rudolph told the commission at a previous meeting.

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

Rudolph said the association had no say where the funds go and asked that the distribution of the funds be a joint effort between the association and the commission.

Under the proposal presented Monday, each volunteer fire department would get 50 percent of the funds in the current manner already established by the commission.

The remaining 50 percent, however, would be disbursed based on calls made to the departments “that are not the primary responding agency” in an area of jurisdiction.

If one department receives 100 calls but only responds to 10, it would get only 10 percent of the remaining 50 percent of funds. The other department would get the remaining funds based on the percentage of calls the department made in areas that are not in its primary response zone.

According to the proposal, the disbursement of funds would not be affected by mutual aid response “as long as the primary department is on scene and active in the operation of the incident.”

But for a department to receive any funds from the commission, it would have to be in good standing with the Lowndes County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments.

To be in good standing a department must be current in dues of $100 per annum, the department must respond to 90 percent of the calls in its assigned area of responsibility and must have radio communication with 911 and provide a telephone backup number in case of radio failure.

The department must also attend 75 percent of the association’s monthly meetings.

The department will have one year to respond to assigned calls and two years to become certified.

Departments will be required to do incident reports of all calls in order to have call volume reports for the forestry and commission purposes, and the department must have an active training program in place and be documented by insurance survey office standards.

Commission Chairman Robert Harris told Rudolph that the commission would take the proposal under advisement.