LAKEVIEW, Ala. (WIAT) — One fire department in Tuscaloosa County is calling upon their community for help. This Tuesday, the Lakeview Fire District will have a special election vote to increase the fire dues for the department.
The department says the budget has not been changed in nearly 20 years. The goal of the increase is to keep more people moving to the area and make sure their equipment meets protocols.
Fire departments across the nation are battling an influx of medical calls, staffing shortages and lack of funding.
“Right now, we can’t keep the equipment maintained and pay the firefighters an even remotely competitive wage to keep them on staff,” said Daniel Griffin, Vice President of Lakeview Fire Protection District.
The department says their main hurdle is having to operate a $300,000 yearly budget.
“We have a flat fee structure that has not been increased in 18 years and was among the lowest in the state when it was passed 18 years ago,” said Gary Johnson, board member of Lakeview Fire Protection District.
“We’re not living within our means for 2021. We’re trying to live within our means from 1985. We can’t do that,” said Griffin.
On Tuesday voters will be asked to vote on an increase in fire dues to help the department keep up with the growing area.
“We move on to a mileage structure. What mileage is, just basically counted as part of your property taxes so the average dues in our area would go up from $75 a year to about $150,” said Griffin.
If the vote passes the new dollar budget would be just under $400,000, allowing the department to make investments in staffing and equipment.
“It gives us enough money to properly maintain and save for the replacement of our trucks and maintain our equipment properly. Most importantly, it gives us enough money to bring in a paramedic for advanced life support so we can help with the ambulance issues that everyone knows is going on,” said Griffin.
The election is set to take place on Tuesday, September 21 at Lakeview Baptist Church for registered voters that live inside the district. The poll is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.