KEYSER - As they talk about ways to raise enough money to purchase a new pumper for the Keyser Volunteer Fire Department, city officials are looking at possibly assessing a fire fee for residents and businesses who are located outside the city limits but are within the Keyser VFD's first due area.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - As they talk about ways to raise enough money to purchase a new pumper for the Keyser Volunteer Fire Department, city officials are looking at possibly assessing a fire fee for residents and businesses who are located outside the city limits but are within the Keyser VFD’s first due area.
During  the Keyser City Council’s Jan. 23 meeting, the council discussed a request from the fire department for the city to purchase a 1998 pumper at a cost of $82,000.
City finance commissioner Mike Ryan noted at the time, however, that the city’s fire fund “is currently in the hole $17,000,” and a resident in the audience suggested raising the residential fire fee by $1.
The council members agreed to consider the suggestion, and Wednesday, city administrator Buck Eagle said he had been doing some research.
“The current residential fire fee is $2.40. I think it’s been $2.40 for quite awhile,” he said.
In doing his research, however, Eagle said they have begun “kicking around the idea of imposing a fire fee on the first due area.”
According to Eagle, that would include residences and businesses up to “just north of Valley View Road, Limestone Road all the way to the dam, and out Waxler to the second set of power lines.
“It’s the expanded footprint that Keyser Fire Department is responsible for,” he said.
Eagle said if the city were to implement the fee, then they “may or may not look into increasing that $2.40 for Keyser residents.”
The idea goes back to the city officials’ recent argument for annexing more property into the city’s limits - residents just outside the city limits benefit from fire protection and police protection, among other amenities, but are not required to pay their share in the form of taxes because they are not inside the corporate limits.
“The people in the first due area are getting services from the City of Keyser for free,” mayor Damon Tillman said.
“Free can unfortunately no longer be,” Eagle added.
Eagle said he and Ryan will be traveling to Bridgeport, West Virginia, in the near future to discuss how the practice has worked for them.