Fire departments request increase

Published 10:52 am Friday, March 25, 2011

WINTON – Local businesses are not alone in keeping their books balanced during this time of a weakened economy, so are volunteer organizations.

At their meeting here earlier this week, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners heard a plea for additional funding to each of the county’s eight rural fire departments. Currently, Hertford County local government provides $23,000 annually to each of the rural departments, helping them to offset their operational costs. Each department also receives per call money from the county.

“It’s been a while since we’ve come before you asking for an increase,” said James Broglin, President of the Hertford County Firefighters Association (HCFA) as he addressed the commissioners. “These economic times are hard on all of us…fuel, utilities, insurance, certification, general upkeep on our trucks. In the past several years, there has been a lot mandated for our departments to do; it’s getting hard to meet these demands. Our fundraisers are dropping off in support due to the financial hardship of those we serve.”

Broglin said the HCFA met March 1 and devised a proposal for a per department increase of $10,000 stretched over six years. The initial stage of the plan calls for the county to increase by $5,000 the supplement given annually to each of the eight rural departments followed by a $1,000 hike per year, per department over the following five years. The starting point for the increases, if approved, would be the county’s 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2011.

“At the end of the six-year plan, this will add up to an $80,000 increase overall,” Broglin explained. “We know the county has budget constraints as well, that’s why we’re not asking for this increase all at one time, rather implementing it over a six-year period. This will ease the burden on the county while giving us the money we need to meet the growing demands place on our departments as we continue to provide a service to the citizens in each of the eight fire districts.”

Those eight districts are covered by the Ahoskie Rural, Como, Harrellsville, Millennium, Murfreesboro, St. John, Union and Winton volunteer fire departments.

“The Association wanted to present this now so you’ll have it on the table as you begin talking about the 2011-12 budget,” Broglin said.

“This request does not include your per call money,” asked Commission Chair Johnnie Ray Farmer.

“No sir, that will stay as it is,” Broglin answered.

“Do you know how much the total per call pay-out is,” Farmer inquired.

Broglin said the total annual budget for all eight departments is in the neighborhood of $243,000. County Manager Loria Williams added that the per call money accounts for roughly $50,000 of that annual supplement.

“Do you think the departments will look favorably at doing away with the per call money,” Farmer asked.

“You’ll probably find some in favor of it and some that will not,” Broglin replied. “When you look at per call money, some departments have more of that coming in, it’s based on call volume. Some of the smaller departments do not run as many calls as the others run a year.”

Farmer thanked Broglin for his input and suggestion on behalf of the firefighter’s association, adding that the commissioners will take the request under advisement as the board begins its budget planning process.

“I want to thank all of our firefighters for the work they do in our communities, for our citizens,” Farmer said. “You guys show up everywhere – fires, car wrecks, wherever you are needed – and you all do an outstanding job. We don’t take lightly what you do; we are thankful for what you do for the citizens of Hertford County.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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