Remember just a week ago we were honoring the 15th anniversary of 9-11. Several banks held special ceremonies to recognize our local first responders, including of course our volunteer firemen. We honored them, and thanked them for the dangerous job they do. And we also celebrated the memory of their brothers and sisters in the NYFD, who sacrificed and distinguished themselves 15 years ago.
Now, not much more than a week later, some locals are giving our volunteer firefighters, and the county officials who supported them, some heat. Seems like multiple complaints are popping up around the county about the new $35 property tax fee. The fee was added to Knox property taxes for each tract of land located in the county, but outside the city limits. (Non-profits like churches are exempt.) The fee is designated specifically to support the fire departments.
People can “opt-out” of paying the fee. However, if you opt-out, two things happen.
First, your local volunteer fire department will take in less money.
Secondly, if you do have a fire, you may get a bill for the cost of fighting the fire.
Even worse, if enough of your neighbors do likewise and “opt-out” of paying, your volunteer fire department might have to shut down. They simply can’t afford to operate a fire department according to state specified guidelines without enough funds to cover the cost of required equipment and training.
If your fire department goes away your insurance premiums will go up… way up! Many homeowners could see hundreds of dollars in increased premium costs.
So please, think hard before you “opt-out.” Our volunteer firefighters provide a valuable service. They donate their time and often risk their safety to serve us. While a $35 fee stings the billfold, it sure beats paying hundreds in higher premiums, or thousands if your home were to catch fire!
I understand that nothing kills goodwill like a tax bill. But, in this case, I think it makes sense to pay a small fee instead of a big bill later. And, I think our volunteer fire departments deserve our support. What do you think?