I have to admit I was taken aback a bit Wednesday evening when Keyser city administrator Buck Eagle announced the city was looking at assessing a fire fee for those residents who live outside the city limits but are within the Keyser Fire Department's first due area.
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
I have to admit I was taken aback a bit Wednesday evening when Keyser city administrator Buck Eagle announced the city was looking at assessing a fire fee for those residents who live outside the city limits but are within the Keyser Fire Department’s first due area.
The comment was made at the time that those residents are currently receiving fire protection for free while those who live inside the city limits have to pay for it.
When Eagle first announced what they were considering, my first knee-jerk reaction was, “That has to be illegal!”
Well it apparently is not only legal, but there is at least one other city in West Virginia that adopted the practice several years ago.
Later in his report during the meeting, Eagle said he and finance commissioner Mike Ryan are planning a visit to the City of Bridgeport, which utilizes a first due fire fee, to discuss the successes and possible failures they have experienced.
A little research on my part discovered Bridgeport did, indeed, implement a fire service fee on July 11, 2011, for those residences and businesses located outside the city limits.
And while their rate might seem a little excessive, I am sure the Keyser city officials would consider a much smaller fee due to the fact that Bridgeport is a much larger city.
As for the fairness of it all, I do see Keyser’s point. While any conscientious firefighter would never once consider not answering a call outside the city, the cost of operating a fire company is tremendous and it would only seem fair that those who benefit from the service should help pay for it.
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Some other bits and pieces:
- City administrator Buck Eagle announced that he and mayor Damon Tillman had met with chief Brett Biddle of the Keyser VFD to discuss the company’s request for the city to purchase a used pumper truck for $82,000.
As the city looks for ways to bolster its fire fund, Eagle said the city officials by consensus are not in favor of purchasing a used truck at this time.
“We gave him another proposal and he’s going to take it back to the company,” Eagle said.
- After hitting some stumbling blocks in obtaining a bingo license enabling the Parks and Recreation Commission to hold some fund raisers, parks and rec commissioner William Zacot said they are now awaiting a letter of approval and should be able to purchase the license soon.
Mayor Tillman noted that they were told by the state that Zacot is “the only person from a municipality” who has asked for a bingo license to raise funds.
- The council voted 4-0 (Terry Liller was absent due to illness) to approve changing the city’s Internet service to Comcast.
According to the city administrator, the new contract will make the city’s bill $355 cheaper per month.
- Council member Eric Murphy announced that he has been working on updating the city’s website, and he invited his fellow council members and the mayor to check out “the new look and feel” of the site.
“It has a lot of new features and is easier to maintain,” he said.
- City code enforcement officer Shane LaRue announced that he is currently focusing on unlicensed vehicles, noting that, according to the code, “if it has no license, it needs to be inside a garage or fenced in where you cannot see it.”