The stated mission of the Putnam County Fire Service Board is to protect life and property. It is a mission which has been increasingly difficult to carry out because it is dependent upon volunteers.
Fire Service Board Administrator Rich Pullin informed the Putnam County Commission at its June 14 meeting that increased operating costs and limited availability of volunteers has made it necessary for the Board to propose an excess levy which would fund a 4-man truck for calls between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the north-side of the Kanawha between Buffalo and Poca. The proposed levy would also fund two paid firefighters on the south-side of the Kanawha. Pullin said that the present fire fees fall far short of the funding that is needed 6 to 8 paid firefighters.
Pullin said that the Board has looked at Fire Service levies for numerous counties and has not concluded upon what will best work for Putnam. Some counties opt to pay firefighters directly because failure to approve or re-approve a levy presents employee retention issues.
Pullin stated that the proposed rates would be based upon square footage. Consequently the cost to both residential and commercial property owners would increase. Businesses would fund 76% and residents would pay 24% of the increase.
Excess levies must receive voter approval. State law requires the County Commission to give notice of levy orders months prior to elections. The Fire Board has less than two months to finalize its proposal if it is to be placed on the November General Election ballot.
The Commission and the Fire Board may be pressed to meet publication deadlines.
In other business, the Commission approved the annexation of 7.59 acres into Hurricane city limits. The property is to the rear of the property behind Wendy’s on Teays Valley Road.