My previous speech to the Hamilton County Development Authority address the High Water and Sewer Rate which has caused many citizens, who because of the inability to pay bills on a tight budget, to shut off their water. Some are stealing water from others in order to survive.
The Town used the high sewer rate for the seed money through the General revenue account in order to facilitate the collateral on a $3 Million loan from the State. Either deny the grant to the Town of White Springs or approve the $250,000 grant on the basis the sewer and water rate is lowered for the Citizens of White Springs. As stated this high rate has affected our local businesses and we will never be able to have future business with the high cost of the White Springs cost of the Economy.
There is, however, another problem far more pressing. And that is the White Springs Fire Department. We now have four (4) certified and two (2) in class firefighters. They will be certified in August.
The Fire Department was ignored by the Town after former manager Townsend fired Chief Peeler. The town spent some $7,000 in legal fees so they would not have to give Peeler a public meeting. The $10,000 in volunteer money went to the Town because the town ran out of money. Since that time there has been very little the Town has done to help the Fire Department until the ISO intervened. Although the majority of the requirements have been met by the extension deadline of June 14, 2014, we have not yet received approval by the ISO. If our ISO classification changes from a 7-8 to a class 9 or 10, the Citizens who insure their homes will have another dilemma. Some insurers will cancel or non-renew the insurance or some insurers may increase their insurance premiums dependent upon the home valuation by $100-$200 a month.
Our police department is fully paid (with the Sheriff’s department responding approximately 73% of the time) but our Fire Department is based upon the assistance of volunteers with mainly Andrew Greene, also an EMT, handling the first responder calls and the majority of Chief Stith’s operations when he is working out of town. Our Town approved volunteer pay of only $10 per call for volunteers up to $50 a month. That means, possibly if the firemen have more than five calls, and do not receive $10 per call, they may not show up. We need more volunteers but we need a strong professional Fire Chief and an assistant Fire Chief with respective possible salaries of $35,000 and $25,000 per year.
If we need a grant for anything it would be to create jobs in White Springs and Southern Hamilton County. With a Professional Fire Department, more jobs would be created and at some point the Fire Department could sustain itself as long as the Town could not remove such money as is allocated to the White Springs Fire Department. In time, if a grant was provided to assist in the employment of a professional fire department whether by assisting in job creation, job training or other areas such as a building