The article in the Daily News on Thursday, 21st of May, about the Public Hearing on the Rural Fire Service Fee created several more questions than answers. The biggest question I have at this point is, “what is the huge rush to get this Service Fee enacted?”
I suspect that I can answer that question myself. The mayor of Lewisburg and the city council knows that the more people become aware of what the Service Fee is all about, the more questions they will have to answer. The tactics they are using are not Democratic at all. Hold two city council meetings, vote in favor and than pass it at the next council meeting. Hurry up and get it enacted before anyone knows what’s going on.
The mayor of Lewisburg had to table the second vote because a few people showed up and asked pertinent questions. He ended the meeting saying that they would take all comments into consideration but that there would not be any more public hearings on this.
Here is a direct question to the mayor of Lewisburg, you were elected along with your city council members to represent the folks of your town, then why are you not willing to take the time needed and address all concerns about this Service Fee? Why are you cutting off any more public hearings? Why are you not willing to listen to your constituents? I would have thought that as the Mayor you would really care about what the citizens in your town have to say, instead it seems you are setting yourself up to be the “Supreme Ruler” of Lewisburg.
This mad rush to enact this fee, will in fact affect the entire County of Greenbrier and you know this. White Sulphur has already announced in the Beckley paper, their plans to follow right along with Lewisburg on this. The rest of the towns in the County will fall right in line also. You keep saying this only affects Lewisburg, and it’s “First Due” area, but that is not the case and you know it. The whole County will adopt this service fee.
This brings me back to the March of 2013 “special election” that cost the citizens in Greenbrier Co. an unnecessary $55,000 rather than having the Fire Levy voted on during the regular election schedule. The Fire Levy was defeated. Soundly. Reason being for lack of real planning. Looks to me like the Service Fee that Lewisburg is pursuing is without real planning also.
Undoubtedly this whole “Fire Service Fee” is an end run around the March 2013 Fire Levy defeat. It is politics as usual, underhanded, manipulative and very unprofessional.
I have a novel idea, why can’t we have a new Fire Levy? Present it to all the citizens of Greenbrier County in a reasonable, comprehensive way. Thoroughly planned and thought out with fairness to each Fire Department throughout the County. Every home owner and business being assessed a fair “Fire Tax”? According to the 2014 Census there are 15,400 households in Greenbrier Co. At $100 per home that is $1,540,000. Over ten years that is $15,400,000. Business owners should be treated like homeowners. There are about 950 businesses in this County. That’s an additional $95,000 per year. $950,000 over ten years. We need all the employers we can get in this County and should not burden them with any outlandish fees. So, that’s $16,350,000 over ten years. I don’t think anyone in the County would say this isn’t fair. You may not be able to build a brand new $5,000,000 firehouse like Lewisburg wants but I’m sure it would provide a pretty good cash flow for all fire departments throughout Greenbrier County.
James G. Livesay