Randolph County voters living in the Northeast R4 Fire District will choose whether to pass a ballot initiative that would make the district tax-funded.
If the tax is approved, residents living in the district would pay approximately $0.30 per $100. This would generate an estimated $72,000 in revenue for the fire district, said Randolph County Assessor Richard Trenago.
If the initiative passes, funding for the district will change from membership-based payments to taxpayers’ money, which would provide a steady source of income for the district.
Right now, those living in the 140 square miles who want to use the service pay a $50 yearly fee. But the number of those members changes from year to year.
“It’s kind of hard to make out a budget when you’re not sure what your monies are going to be coming in,” said Larry Sander, Northeast R4 Fire District board president.
That would be a little more than double the district’s $33,000 budget which means more money to improve aging equipment, such as helmets.
“Some of them are in extremely deteriorated condition,” Sander said. “I think that our number one choice for extra funds will be to provide the safety gear for our firefighters.”
Equipment improvement is a priority for Madison West Monroe Fire Protection District Chief Larry Jones, whose fire district has run on taxpayers’ money for 13 years.
“This way everybody pays for our protection,” Jones said. “We can purchase enough equipment to try to keep the men having enough to save themselves.”
He’s also been able to plan ahead for some other equipment purchases, like a second fire truck he’ll buy later this year.