Re: Consolidation of Rural Fire Districts

My email to the County Commission concerning their insane idea:

Hello! My name is Noah !@#$%^&*(), and I live in the Lebanon Volunteer Fire District, on the border with the Bahama VFD.

I heard that a vote is scheduled for Monday to potentially consolidate Durham County’s rural fire districts. I have some concerns about this.
1) What are the costs of the new concept? The fire tax is currently 6 cents per $100. To implement the recommendations of 3 additional full time employees just in the Bahama area is an additional $429,000. Raising salaries of our current part time staff to meet the county pay scale is another $159,423. We paid $443,620 in salaries last year. Just to cover these increases, we will need a minimum of 4-5 cent increase in our taxes alone. There is no way that this concept can be implemented without an increase in our taxes.
2) What is the impact of a consolidated rural fire tax area? The impact will be an increase in tax revenues that our citizens will have to pay and money may not stay in our community. In addition, there is the costs of building/remodeling stations. An estimate of a new station can run over $1 million not including land. Remodeling is almost as expensive. Where will this money come from? If the County builds/purchase items and list them in their name, who is going to cover insurance and maintenance on these stations? If the new trucks are in the County’s name, who is going to handle the insurance, maintenance and repairs of these vehicles? Is this a fiscally responsible decision?
3) What will happen to existing board of Directors? The loss of control of our fire department by our board of directors is a concern. They have a vested interest in the fire and EMS service they receive and how money is spent. How can giving control to the Durham County Commissions improve service to our community? Isn’t service and care by one’s neighbors more effective and easier to change, if change is needed?
4) What is the impact of the elimination of Volunteers or adhering to Durham County Volunteer Policy? This volunteer policy will be a detriment to our department. We are a very rural area. Having volunteers who cannot respond directly to a scene or keep their gear with them so they are always available for a call will eliminate volunteers from responding. I have several chronic medical issues, so the Lebanon VFD has responded several times. Each time, most of the responders were volunteers. In addition, if this Volunteer policy is kept as is, it will do away with our Auxiliary who is made up of volunteers who are not a firemen or EMS and are a vital asset to our department and others in the County. To require a volunteer to have firefighter certification or EMS training will stop all volunteering. No one is going to acquire the training before joining as it is very time consuming and expensive. Do you have any hard-evidence to the contrary?
5) I am also concerned with response time. If control is given to the County, rather than the community, will response time be slowed down? Also, if/when the numbers of volunteers are reduced, won’t this also affect response time? This could be dangerous to our community. In reflection, the Lebanon VFD has always arrived at my house within five minutes of the beginning of a call. I’m concerned that this response time could be dramatically reduced, and not for the better.
Please keep these issues in mind when you are reviewing and voting on these recommendations and oppose this proposal until further evaluation of costs and effects it will have on our community are considered. I would strongly recommend delaying a vote on this issue until more time has been given for the VFD’s and the local communities they serve to discuss this issue, and to take up their opinions personally with the County Commission.
 
Holding such an important vote in a short amount of time seems to be dishonest. It will undoubtedly make many people angry, and they will remember the act of the County Commission that made their taxes higher only for response time to be slower, come November. Forget Republicans taking your seats: new Democrats can take your seats just as easily. Democrats who make fiscally responsible decisions and who care for their neighbors’ well-being as well as what they have to say.
 
Have a great day, and thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Many blessings,
Mr. Noah !@#$%^&*()
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