Fire levy fund may be cut in Raleigh County

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  The Raleigh County Commission and local fire departments are meeting next week to discuss how much the fire levy will be this year. The commission proposed to cut the levy in about half, to $2.25 million dollars, but local fire departments are saying this is not enough funds. In 2015 the levy was $4 million dollars. The fire departments have suggested a compromise of $3.5 million.
     59News reached out to area firefighters to see why they need more fund. Dustin Boggs, the Chief for the Coal City Fire Department, says his station relies on the funds from the fire levy, “We’re going to be back to where we were pre levy, I mean the funding is not going to be there to purchase the needed tools and operate effectively.”
     Before 2012, their was not a fire levy on the ballot which left fire departments, who were already volunteering their time and safety, to raise their own funds. Kevin Price told us that, “Coming into the levy, all of them, their was none without debt.”
     Without the levy volunteer fire departments received about $50,000 dollars in funds from the state, which may seem like a lot of money, but to a fire department it’s not nearly enough, “Pre-levy we were in debt $370,000, that was for one truck and our fire station. It cost $50,000 just to keep the doors open. Chief Boggs says that means if something breaks, they will be forced to do without, which will not just affect the department, but the entire community, “Their insurance is going to go up and the fire service is going to be not what it should be.”
     Kevin Price added that, “before the levy took effect, when they had their pumps tested 80% of them failed.” That means each time firefighters responded to a fire that they were taking a gamble on their equipment, because a lot of them had leaks and other issues.
     The county commission and Raleigh County Fire Departments are meeting next week to discuss the levy amount.Then the community will vote to pass or fail the levy in May.

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