VFDs prepare for big loss in 2017

Published 10:25 am Friday, July 8, 2016

Lincoln County volunteer fire departments may be looking at a loss of $146,000 in the 2017 budget, according to the Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey.

Galey said in Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that the money usually allocated to the volunteer fire departments as fire insurance rebates could be going into the state’s general fund instead.

Money earmarked for the volunteers departments is used to pay the notes on the stations, fire trucks and other equipment.

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“We’re all concerned,” Galey said. “Those in the fire department do a good job, and without the equipment they can’t do their job.”

Insurance rebates are one of two major sources of income for the fire departments. The other is the millage rate for county property taxes. Currently, volunteer fire departments are allocated one mill, but Galey said making up for the loss in rebate money would require doubling the millage rate.

It’s still unclear whether the insurance rebates are included in the “special funds” to be sent to the state’s general fund as covered in Senate Bill 2362, and Galey said he is waiting for an opinion to be published from the Mississippi Attorney General.

“The insurance commissioner says he’s going to continue to give us the money, but I don’t see how we could possibly spend it because we would be breaking the law,” Galey said. “That’s going to be about $18,000 per fire department. Speaking to the presidents of some of these fire departments, they’re not willing to put that money in the bank and spend it because they don’t want to go to jail.”

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney is also the state fire marshal.

Voting location moved

A voting location will be moving in November, according to Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield.

“We moved Pearlhaven that was in the Ability Works parking lot to the Bicentennial Building on Main Street,” he said. “That will take effect in November. There will be letters and a new voter card mailed out this week.”