Declining payment of fire fee threatens volunteer departments’ budgets
A fire fee charged to property owners and businesses helps fund the ten volunteer fire departments across Wood County. But many of this year’s fees have gone unpaid.
WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. (WTAP) - A fire fee charged to property owners and businesses helps fund the ten volunteer fire departments across Wood County. But many of this year’s fees have gone unpaid.
The fire fee has been in place since 2017. It charges a fee of a few cents per square foot of property for homeowners and business owners.
The Wood County Commission collects the fee and distributes it among the volunteer fire departments. The fire departments use the funds to pay for things like equipment, training, and vehicle maintenance.
In the first year of the fee, about 96% of people who received bills paid them. This year, that number is down to 74%.
Williamstown Fire Department Captain and Wood County Fire Board Vice President Mike Voshel said the unpaid fees are a big deal.
“Some of the fire departments use every bit of the fire fee just to pay their utility bills every month,” Voshel said. “So, you know, the decline in the payment -- I mean, the less resources we’re going to be able to have, the less resources we’re going to be able to purchase new equipment. So, it’s very detrimental if it’s not paid.”
Voshel said many of the largest unpaid fire fee bills are owed by businesses in the area. Voshel said some businesses owe thousands of dollars.
Voshel said the second round of bills for the fee this year will be sent out in the coming weeks. People who owe the fee can also pay online at the county commission’s website.
Copyright 2023 WTAP. All rights reserved.