The votes are in for a proposed fee that would keep several Five Cities Fire Authority firefighters on the job. The fee would provide funding for the Five Cities Fire Authority, money that fire authorities say is badly needed.
Property owners let the Fire Board know how they feel about paying an additional $66 dollars each year during a public hearing Friday. April 4th was originally the final day to turn in the ballot for the measure, but a typo in the mail packet incorrectly stated April 18th. The board will accept ballots until the 18th.
The yearly assessment would bring in $900,000 to $1-million per year to the Five Cities Fire Authority, providing funding for dispatch services, equipment replacement and jobs. Six firefighters are being paid through a federal grant that runs out in September. Fire Chief Mike Hubert says if the measure doesn't pass, those 6 firefighters will be out of a job. He says losing those fire fighters would impact fire response time and compromise public safety.
"We'll always do the best that we can for the public that we serve, we'll respond to emergencies," said Hubert. "If this funding doesn't pass we just might not be as efficient or safe as we'd like to be during particular emergencies."
Today's public meeting was part of the process. The board will start the process of counting ballots and originally said the final vote numbers will be presented at their regular meeting on April 18th. No word yet if the extension for accepting ballots will change that. Votes will be weighted primarily on property size, and more than 50 percent is needed for the fee to pass.