City planning to charge for use of fire department
In Feb. 21-27 issue By Derek Aaron Times Journal Reporter
RUSSELL SPRINGS - "Taxpayers in the city of Russell Springs can no longer afford to subsidize costs incurred for fire department calls outside the city," said Mayor Hollis DeHart at the City Commission meeting last Thursday.
The majority of the meeting was focused on the proposed Russell Springs Volunteer Fire Department subscription service's billing policy, which was given a first reading toward charging non-city residents and businesses for calls outside city limits.
City Commissioner Richard Wooldridge, who also serves as a volunteer fireman said the service was long overdue. Wooldridge said the increased revenue would allow the fire department to upgrade its equipment and to make available services without losing significant amounts of money.
"The business of operating a fire department, even a volunteer fire department, is an expensive undertaking," DeHart said.
The mayor said taxpayers inside the city limits already pay for fire protection and services through city taxes. Because of this, they will be exempted from direct billing, regardless of whether or not their insurance pays the claim.
"If you live inside the city limits … and you have a fire, we will bill your insurance company, not you," DeHart said. "If they pay it, that's fine. If they do not, you still will not be billed."
DeHart said subscribers outside the city limits will receive the same services as a resident of the city if they are subscribers to the service. DeHart said that fee will be approximately $35 a year.
He said no one had to subscribe to the service if they didn't want to and that firemen would not know who subscribes to the service.
If the Russell Springs Volunteer Fire Department responds to a non-members home or business, they become liable to pay for the response cost, DeHart said.
Fire Department Commissioner Timmy Hudson said that he and RSVFD Fire Chief H.M. Bottom will begin counting the number of homes and businesses outside the city limits but inside the fire department's service area. He predicted a 60 percent subscription rate in Russell Springs.
The department's service area was named more than 10 years ago by the fire chiefs of all four county fire departments.
In other happenings at the meeting—
• The commission heard the second reading of Ordinance 2008-01, Adopting a Modern and Accurate Legal Description of Territory Previously Annexed in Ordinance 2007-30 and Ordinance 2004-10. The new legal descriptions were prepared by AGE Engineering Services and certified by land surveyor Doug Gooch, according to City Attorney Don Byrom.
The property that is the subject of this ordinance is near the current Russell Springs city limits sign near Cooper Rd. on U.S. 127. These two previous annexations overlap and took in some of the same property and the new ordinance will clarify the description of the property, Byrom noted.
Commissioner Wayne Gaskin had some question over the actual city boundary while Mayor DeHart said he would meet with the Secretary of State's office in Frankfort and report back to the commission and have the questions surrounding the new ordinance answered by the March meeting. The commission accepted the ordinance.
• DeHart announced that, according to KRS statutes, the commissioners must decide each new year if they want to change departments or remain with their current ones. Upon the motion by Water Department Commissioner Richard Wooldridge, the commission decided to remain with the departments they are overseeing now and not change.
• Hudson said his department had received a grant for more than $28,000 that had to be matched at 5 percent. He said Fire Chief H.M. Bottom had bought four new breathing apparatuses and five new "turnout gears" so far.
• The commission accepted a new "bad debt procedure" concerning water bills. Bills must be paid before water services can be turned back on.
• DeHart announced a surplus on nine items, including a mower with $1,500 blades, that will be advertised for bids in this newspaper in the coming weeks.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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