Up & Coming Weekly

March 26, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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10 UCW MARCH 27-APRIL 2, 2019 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM Cumberland County rural property owners will likely see a tax increase come July. e funding subcommit- tee of the county's public safety task force is unanimously recommending a 0.375 cent increase in the special fire protection service district's tax. ere are 15 fire districts in unincor- porated areas of Cumberland County plus Hope Mills and Spring Lake, which are supported by property tax assessments of 0.10 cents per $100 of valuation. Five small, low-wealth fire departments receive additional as- sessments of 0.125 cents per $100. e subcommittee voted unani- mously March 19 to request that the Cumberland County Board of Com- missioners adopt the tax increase effective July 1, 2019. "We have heard your concerns," said Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon. She and Fire Commissioner Marshall Faircloth predicted the board would go along with the increase. Consultant Gregory Grayson of Envirosafe Fire Support Services told the committee that "the workload and need for fire and rescue services has increased significantly." Fire depart- ments have become "all-hazard agen- cies" requiring additional salaries and training for firefighters, he added. He outlined the complexities of developing a new funding model for volunteer fire departments. e city of Fayetteville Fire Department is funded with salaried, full-time firefighters. e proposed county tax increase would boost total fire and rescue spending from $7.4 million to $8.9 million for fiscal year 2020. A series of supplements, incentives and grants would augment the existing baseline. ey would be provided to strengthen the county's overall fire and rescue delivery system. Supplements and incentives would be based on enhanced individual department performance. e low- wealth fire departments, including Beaver Dam, Bethany, Godwin/ Falcon, Stedman and Wade, would re- ceive annual supplements of $83,000 each for firefighter staffing. Some of the seven fire chiefs who comprise the funding subcommit- tee spoke out with mild objections to the funding formulas. "I sometimes feel that we're caught in the middle," said Cumberland Road Fire Chief Steve Parish. He said his department responds to 2,000 calls annually, while others with the same number of responses have larger populations and more funding. "We responded to 1,900 calls last year," Pearce's Mill Fire Chief Ronnie Marley said. His department's 2018 baseline was $812,000. at's 58 per- cent more than Cumberland Road's $472,000. "I have noted the level of dis- comfort, but you have to look at the needs of the entire county," Assistant County Manager Tracey Jackson told the committee. "We are committed to this process," Cannon added. Because all 15 rural fire depart- ments operate independently, their individual boards of directors will also have to approve the new funding methods before county commission- ers can act. e Public Safety Task Force meets next month, and county officials hope the fire chiefs will have their approvals by then. Funding local volunteer fire departments by JEFF THOMPSON NEWS Some local fire departments could gain a bigger budget. Go Online 484-6200 www.uandcomingweekly.com Flip our pages for news, views, art and entertainment! Call and ask one of our marketing representatives to help you grown your business.

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