Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 30, 2014

Mercer Commission to hold special meeting on fire fees

PRINCETON — A special meeting concerning the possibility of raising county fire fees is being conducted Friday morning by the Mercer County Commission.

The special meeting begins at 10 a.m. at the Mercer County Courthouse. Volunteer fire departments have been requesting an increase in fire fees to help cover the growing cost of maintaining their operations.

The Mercer County Fire Service Board passed a resolution April 3 to increase the fire service fee.

“We’re going to accept the resolution that the (Mercer County) fire board has sent to us,” said Mike Vinciguerra, president of the Mercer County Commission. “They’re requesting to raise the fire fees.”

How much county fire fees could be raised for a home or business will depend on its square footage, Vinciguerra said. For example, a home with 1,000 to 2,999 square feet would increase to $35. A home with more the 4,000 square feet would pay a $45 annual fire fee, according to information provided by the county commission.

“We will accept the resolutions, then we’ll go into public hearings on it,” he stated. “It will take several months, I’d say.” Vinciguerra estimated there would be six to seven public hearings; some conducted the day, others during the evenings.

“And we’ll have them at different fire stations,” he added.

Vinciguerra said he did not know if the county was legally required to conduct public hearings, but said, “We’re going to have them anyway. We want the people to understand ahead of time so it won’t be a shock.”

Mercer County’s nine volunteer fire departments face growing expenses even though the county’s fire service fees have not increased for more than 20 years, Steven A. Sommers, president of the Mercer County Firefighters Association, said in a letter to the commission dated March 17.

For example, a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) costs approximately $5,200 today; this is an increase of $4,000 from 20 years ago.

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