Barbour County Volunteer Firefighters Won't See Approved Fire Fee Right Away

Voters Approve New Fire Fee In Barbour County But Money Still A Year Away For Firefighters
Voters Approve New Fire Fee In Barbour County But Money Still A Year Away For Firefighters

More than 1,500 Barbour County residents checked 'yes' to a new fire fee on Super Tuesday but a fee volunteer firefighters won't see for about a year.

"The fee will be tied to the property tax notices," said Mike Stell, Chairman of the Barbour County Volunteer Firefighters Association.

The notices won't go out until October, but when the money does come in Stell hopes to use part of it to bring the Mount Andrew Volunteer Fire Department back to life. It's the only department locked up last year because the state's tobacco tax, according to Stell, was no longer enough to keep it running.

"These people (Mount Andrew) need fire protection. The closest fire department is 10 miles away," said Stell.

The election results were a lot closer than Mike Stell thought they would be.  The new fire fee won by just 346 votes.

LaKiesha Rodgers was among the 1,200 or so who voted against the new fire fee.

"Nobody ever explained to me what it was really all about," Rodgers said.

"We probably could have done a better job of explaining it," Stell said.

Stell insists the new fire fee is not a property tax, not tied anyway to home value. It is what it is; $30 a year per home and $75 a year per business.

"We will treat everyone the same regardless if they voted for it or not," said Stell.

Mike Stell estimates it takes about $18,000 a year to run just one volunteer fire department. The fire fee is expected to bring in a little more per department, a call for help answered by a majority in Barbour County.

In all the new fee is expected to generate around $240,000 a year. 11 volunteer fire departments will share the money but not the Eufaula city fire department because that department is city-funded.