Up & Coming Weekly

October 31, 2017

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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Page 12 of 48

12 UCW NOVEMBER 1 - 7, 2017 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM Cumberland County rural fire depart- ments have faced increased operational costs for a couple of years with no increase in revenue. County commissioners pro- vided short term, temporary relief for some departments earlier this year by borrow- ing money from a surplus fund. "We've outgrown the current funding model," said County Manager Amy Cannon. Rural fire districts are supported by a 10- cent tax, which is tacked onto the ad valorem property tax. Fayetteville, Hope Mills and Spring Lake home and business owners do not pay the extra tax because their costs are included in municipal property tax levies. Cannon said the count y could ask the state legislature to allow count y govern- ment to increase the fire district tax. It's one option available to count y govern- ment. A small increase in the sales tax is not available, Cannon said, because the count y has maxed out its sales tax limit. "We have no hidden agenda going for ward," Cannon told the Cumberland Count y Public Safet y Task Force. She's leaving it up to task force members to come up with some ideas for an additional "sustainable funding source." Fire chiefs believe the solution must be one that will meet the needs of the county's 17 rural fire departments, large and small. Suburban depart- ments whose districts adjoin the city of Fayetteville are the largest, with annual budgets approaching $1 million. Their tax bases are urban in nature, comprised of residential subdivisions, commercial businesses and industry. The tax bases of smaller departments serving rural areas like Godwin, Falcon, Cedar Creek and Beaver Dam include scat- tered housing, farmland and forestry lands. Wayne Lucas, chief of the Godwin-Fal- con Fire Department, pointed out that his protection district includes a large section of I-95. Expenses mount up for depart- ments responsible for responding regularly to motor vehicle crashes on major thor- oughfares. Lucas was quick to point out that the lives of small-town residents and interstate travelers are just as important as those who have the good fortune of being served by larger fire departments. "We've been putting Band-Aids on the system for a long time," said County Com- missioner Jimmy Keefe, who also serves as the county's fire commissioner. The fire chiefs who comprise the public safet y task force agreed to form a commit- tee of seven to study possible supplemen- tal funding ideas. Cannon asked that the group tr y to have a recommendation to her by Februar y 2018 so she can review it and present it to count y commissioners in April for possible inclusion in the 2019 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Future fire department funding in question by JEFF THOMPSON NEWS JEFF THOMPSON, Senior News Reporter. COMMENTS? news@upandcomingweekly. com. (910) 484-6200. Rural fire districts are supported by a 10-cent tax, which is tacked onto the ad valorem property tax.

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