Fire dues for the Adair County Volunteer Fire Department will be added to tax bills after approval by the fiscal court Tuesday night.
County Fire Chief Terry Flatt took part in a videoconference court meeting to make the request. There was no discussion before the court voted to approve, with magistrate Daryl Flatt, who is a member of the fire department, abstaining.
The Breeding and Knifley volunteer departments went before the court last summer and began adding their dues to tax bills at the end of 2019. At that time, the Adair County department did not ask to be part of the required ordinance.
Terry Flatt said the department did not ask to put dues on tax bills last year because there were some areas of concern about the proposal. Those issues were addressed before the court approved the final draft of the ordinance.
Fire dues will remain at $25 per deed and there will be a $75 maximum fee per property owner. While the dues are still voluntary, it will be the responsibility of the property owner to request that the fee be removed from tax bills prior to payment should they choose not to pay the dues.
Flatt said they believe they will reach more people with the new process because some bills are returned as undeliverable. They have heard from some property owners who believe the new process would be simpler for them, he added.
911 FEE MOVED TO WATER BILLS
Also during Tuesday’s virtual meeting, the court approved a second reading to collect a 911 service fee on water bills. The court will direct the Columbia Adair Utility District to begin collecting the fee on behalf of the county. According to Lenny Stone, utility district manager, the move will require approval by the Public Service Commission.
The ordinance states that a $2 monthly service fee will be collected on active water services provided to occupied dwellings, with agribusinesses limited to three charges. The utility district will be able to retain 2 percent of the fee as compensation for collecting and distributing the funds.
The ordinance repeals a prior policy that required the fee to be collected on telephone landlines. The dwindling number of landlines has reduced revenue for 911. There are around 8,000 water meters in Adair County, so the new structure could generate close to $190,000 annually for 911 expenses.
The court voted to cancel 4th of July ceremonies due to concerns of social gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic. The county usually helps pay for fireworks, which draw a crowd to the Fairground Street area. All magistrates voted in agreement to cancel activities.
ROAD FUND CUTS
County Judge Executive Gale Cowan reported that the road fund is projected to be cut by around $280,000, with cuts coming in the flex fund, discretionary and county road aid. The court discussed cancelling plans to blacktop roads after previously allocating $25,000 to each district but voted to continue with the project, with revenue coming from the 2019-20 budget.
The court accepted an agreement with Cumberland County to charge $33 a day to house their inmates. The county has searched for ways to increase revenue at the jail and had requested $36 a day but the Cumberland County Fiscal Court agreed to $33.
The court approved a request by county electrical inspector Chris Bennett to add Patrick Williams as a deputy electrical inspector, pending Williams’ completion of required licensing.
The court postponed hiring temporary employees at the road department with plans for applicants to be interviewed.
County Judge Gale Cowan and magistrates Harold Burton and Terry Hadley took part in the meeting from the courthouse annex basement. Daryl Flatt, Sammy Baker, Chris Reeder, Billy Coffey and Greg Caldwell attended via teleconference. The meeting can be viewed on the fiscal court’s Facebook page.
By Sharon Burton