SLOCOMB, AL (WSFA) - Slocomb Fire and Rescue is looking to establish a fire protection district. Creating a district means local home and business owners would pay $35 per year when they pay their property taxes. That money would go to the department's budget, which is currently about $28,000 per year.
"We're working as hard as we can out of the existing budget we have," said Operations Chief Kyle Hovey.
But as the coverage area and call volume increases, Hovey says it's just not enough.
"The city of Slocomb, Fadette, Malvern are all growing based on the proximity to Dothan," said Hovey, "That results in an increase in run volume which volunteers simply can't handle anymore." Hovey said.
Hovey said last year, Fire and Rescue received 2,400 calls.
Slocomb Fire and Rescue is a combination of the fire department with some paid and some volunteer firefighters. The department isn't seeing many people eager to volunteer for the department. The roughly $45 - $50,000 they'd collect from the tax could go towards things like increasing staff, which will help response time.
It would also create a consistent source of funding before federal gr ant money ends.
"Right now we are fortunate to have the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Services Gr ant through FEMA. That runs out in 2020," said Hovey. "We're hoping people support the fire district so that we can have funds in place to have firefighters on duty."
Fire officials say with more staffing the department could get a better ISO rating, which would positively impact homeowner's insurance.
The money would also be used to help maintain equipment.
The department is gathering a petition of 100 registered voters who support the fire protection district. They'll present the petition to a probate judge. If approved, people in the area will vote on the tax on the Nov. 7 ballot.
"It takes a village to operate this fire department," said Firefighter Justin Myles.
"We're asking people to tax themselves. I understand that's tough to do. We're asking folks, let's support ourselves by our own tax money and take care of our own people," said Hovey.
Slocomb Fire and Rescue will host a community meeting, Monday at 7 p.m. at the Slocomb Municipal Building to answer questions.