Future of fire subscription fees sparks debate
UPDATE: Another Obion County city dropped out of "pay for spray".
The city of Obion's fire chief, Jamie Evans, told Local 6 effective July 1, the city will no longer respond to fires in their rural fire subscription area.
This move means 387 homes lose fire protection.
Evans said the city made the drastic decision to put pressure on the county to change the "pay for spray" policy.
This comes after the county fire commission met earlier Monday and failed to vote on a resolution to change the current subscription fee method of funding in the county.
The fire committee plans to meet May 29 to give the county commission a recommendation on how to charge for a fire fee.
That non-binding decision will be reviewed and could be voted on next Friday. That's when county commissioners will meet again.
Union City also dropped out of "pay for spray" last week.
For our earlier story, see below.
UNION CITY, Tenn. — Monday's Obion County commission meeting looked more like a court proceeding as County Mayor Benny McGuire came out swinging against collecting fire fees.
"We cannot collect that anymore," he said. "There is nobody left in the county that can collect subscriptions."
McGuire told commissioners it's not the county's responsibility to fight fires and contends the county's seven cities should step up and maintain their own subscription service.
"The county has no fire department. The only thing we've got is water hoses and buckets and if you need our water hose and buckets, I'm sure we show up at a fire. That's all we got," McGuire said sternly.
County Commissioners decided to expand fire subscription service countywide almost two years ago. County Commissioner Terry Dwyer said it looked good on paper then but now, he's rethinking that decision.
"I thought this was going to be the answer to the problem," Dwyer said. "I didn't know it was going to create another problem. It didn't turn out the way we thought it would. It ended up causing some more animosity within the county."
That animosity is between fire chiefs and McGuire's office. McGuire said the solution is simple: let the city's handle their own policies. But McGuire knows that's a tough sell.
"We've had some firemen, fire chiefs that don't want this. They ain't going to have it and they have fought us every way there is," he said.
Commissioners will meet June 1 for a special meeting to discuss the future of the fire fees.