Facts about Fire Protection in Wilson County

The County Commission appears short on facts & ideas about how to address the issue of fire protection in Wilson County. Their current strategy appears to be to fold up their arms and refuse to negotiate with the City of Mt. Juliet. The chairman of the county ems committee has stated that he will accept nothing less than Mt. Juliet starting its own city fire department.

Here are a few facts that the county commission appears to have forgotten:

  • Every citizen of Mt. Juliet lives in Wilson County
  • The fire protection provided by the WEMA station in Mt. Juliet covers more square miles outside the city of Mt. Juliet than inside.
  • Ultimately, fire protection is paid for neither by the county government nor the city government. It is paid for by the taxpayers.

If the county persists in being pig-headed, the RFMJ solution is as follows:

  • The City of Mt. Juliet should immediately annex every square inch in its  Urban Growth Boundary. This can be done by ordinance and needs only a determination by the city commission that it is in the best interests of both the city and the territory being annexed. This would quadruple the size of the city and double its population.
  • The City should then boot the county from the station behind city hall and take it over. The City should build a new station south of I-40, and staff each with approximately 8-10 firefighters on duty at all times, with a part-time, on-call reserve force of another 8-10 available at all times. Funding would come through a modest property tax – about $0.15 per $100 of assessed value should do it. This is less than half the property tax in Lebanon. The Mt. Juliet property tax bill would amount to about $10/month on a $200k home.
  • The City should then insist that the county provide at least the same level of ambulance coverage per capita in Mt. Juliet that is being provided in Lebanon and sue the county if they do not comply.

The City would be fine. The county would be in a world of hurt. But that apparently is the way the county wants it.

Advertisements

70 Comments

Filed under Fire Protection

70 responses to “Facts about Fire Protection in Wilson County

  1. Butch Huber

    Publius,

    This needs to be shock and awe, not just a puff and a jab. The city needs to go all in on the county and force them to do what is right for all citizens of this county, not just those who live in Mt. Juliet. The City would be better perceived if it were to look for a solution to the root cause of the shortage of coverage throughout the county and force the county to fix it. As long as Mt. Juliet looks like it is just trying to shirk its duties and responsibilities, the perception, fueled by certain aspects of the local media, will be that we just don’t want to “grow up and put our big boy britches on”.

    We need to completely obliterate the perception in the public that the county is doing its job, but that the city isn’t doing its job. We pay more than our fair share of the funding that goes toward funding WEMA, yet we are getting, by far, much less funding per person than is being given elsewhere in this county.

  2. Butch Huber

    Here’s a little ditty that I bet the county doesn’t want us to check into. Part of WEMA is emergency medical response, or ambulance services if you will. Now, unlike fire protection service in Wilson County, ambulance services is a “fee for service” type of enterprise. In other words, it should be a profit generating entity or at least a break-even enterprise. The county says that they lose money on ambulance services because they don’t collect from everyone. I wonder who they aren’t collecting from?

    I think it would be a great exercise to look into how much call for service comes in from this end of the county and how many on this end of the county don’t pay up for the services. Could this be another way that the county is funneling money out of Mt. Juliet and into the other parts of the county?

    Considering that 60+% of the population in this county exists just around stations 3 and 4, it is reasonable to assume that 60+% of the calls for services come from people who live in the zones covered by those station. An investigation should be conducted to determine how much the people who live around station 3 and station 4 are charged for services and compare that number to the amount charged for the same services throughout the rest of the county. Then, after that has been determined, the investigation should go into how many people (as a percentage of total number of calls for services) on this end of the county don’t pay up for the services they receive and how many in the other parts of the county (again, as a percentage of the total number of calls for services) don’t pay up. If there seems to be more than a coincidental or inconsequential difference between the non-collected fees for services in this area and the non-collected fees for services in the other areas, the investigation should go into “why there is such a difference” and “Did the county make as much of an effort to collect from the ones who were not paying up in one portion of the county as compared to the folks in the other portion of the county”. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that there will be a disparity between those areas outside Mt. Juliet, or at least outside station 3 and station 4, and the rest of the county. I am going to bet that we pay a much higher proportion of the fees for services than is collected elsewhere in the county. If I am proven correct, it can only mean one thing…that we are subsidizing emergency medical services for the rest of Wilson County.

    I am told that the WEMA doesn’t collect from 40% of the calls that are made for emergency medical services. Could that 40% be the calls that are made from places other than this end of the county? Could it be that they don’t collect from anyone else in the county, including Lebanon and Watertown, but they collect from us? That question needs to be asked and answered, and if we don’t like the answer it needs to be investigated thoroughly. It is not our function in life to provide services to others.

    Man, if they are caught with their hand in this cookie jar they are in for deep trouble!

    This is yet another reason that everything has to be drug out into the light of day and investigated to determine what’s what in this county.

    Another thing that has to be determined is “how much are we providing to WEMA through ambulance services and “are we getting what we are paying for”. The costs of labor in station 3 has to be equitably split between fire and ambulance services. Thinking about it, I think the cost of labor should be split on the basis of usage, or at least on a fifty/fifty basis between fire protection and ambulance services. Actually, it needs to be broken down even more. The costs for fire suppression needs to be broken out of all other aspects of responsibilities of WEMA for a more accurate picture. Then the question must be asked and answered, “Do we get the money we spend on ambulance services on this end of the county back, or does it go into the county coffers to pay for others in the rest of the county”?

    Ambulance services have to also be broken out as well, because they do respond whenever their is a fire (I believe they do anyway). So, for the very few actual fires that we have in this city, we need to allocate a portion of the cost for ambulance services to “Fire protection”, oh, wait, they charge for the ambulance services, so that actually helps, right?

    Yeah, I think this needs to be looked into. We have so little coverage in Mt. Juliet compared to how much we pay into the county.

    I was observing a response someone placed on one of the websites of one of the local papers. The respondent wrote something like, “The people in Mt. Juliet say that the only think that they get from the county is schools and fire protection. Don’t they have county roads in Mt. Juliet?” Ummm… No. I don’t think we do. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am wrong, I think I am right. When the city annexes an area they become responsible for the roads in that area. That what one of the big issues that was happening with the reverse L portion of Curd Road by the New West Wilson High School (Yeah, I know it’s called the Mt Juliet High School, but since it services as much as perhaps 60% non-Mt Juliet Students and seeing as it isn’t even in the city of Mt. Juliet, I choose to call it the “New West Wilson High School”) the county didn’t want to pay for the enhancements because they were afraid that as soon as they did the city would annex the road into the city. So, no, I don’t think there are any county roads in the city. There are state roads, but I don’t think there are county roads. As a matter of fact, I think that is one of the reasons we haven’t annexed more areas into the city before now, because we don’t want to pay for the cost of roads when we aren’t making incrementally more money from the annexation through increased sales tax revenues.

    Yeah, I know that I went on a tangent, but how can you not go off into tangents with something that is so convoluted as what we are dealing with when we dig into fire protection?

    What do we get from the county for all the millions of dollars that we pour into the county every year beside schools and WEMA? Do our children get castigated in School because they live in Mt. Juliet like we get castigated over fire protection just because we want to receive what we are paying for? The person in the article also mentioned the county extension office in Mt. Juliet. Really? You are going to suggest that we benefit from having an extension office in Mt. Juliet when the purpose of that extension office is to collect taxes from us? Really? They didn’t say anything about the library, but let’s go ahead and bring it up now. Who benefits from the Library? Everyone on the west side of 109 at least. However, we, the citizens of Mt. Juliet, contribute an unequal share of money to the library because our city contributes to the cost of the library through inter-governmental grants or some such thing. Do the citizens who live outside Mt. Juliet pay extra? No.

    So what do we really get for all the money we send to the county? Really, what do we get? We need to dig into how much we contribute toward the school system in this county and how much provision we get (in dollar terms) back in the education system? Could it be that we, the citizens of Mt. Juliet, who live in the most densely populated area in terms of businesses and in terms of homes, and in the most affluent portions of the county, contribute an unequal share toward education in this county? Could this be yet another way that the county takes money from us and spends it elsewhere?

    Ya see, I think these questions need to be asked and answered completely and thoroughly so that we can really make our case that we are not a burden on the county and that we are carrying more than our own fair share of the water in this county.

    It’s time to put this puppy to rest!

  3. There are no county roads in the City of Mt. Juliet. All roads inside the city limits are the responsibility of the city. By state law, the county road commission is prohibited from working on the roads inside the limits of any incorporated city.

  4. Butch Huber

    Here is an interesting fact about WEMA. I looked at their website just now. On there website is a section called, “annual call volume”. So, being the curious type that I am, I clicked on that button.

    Up pops a screen with a bar graph for several years going up to 2008. I decided to do some math, I like math, don’t you? Data and math go hand-in-hand with one another, don’t you agree?

    According to the chart for 2008 the calls for service that came in to WEMA as a whole were as follows:

    Ambulance 5780
    Rescue 2067
    Fire 506
    Special assignment 365
    ST7 (whatever that is) 77

    Total Calls for service = 8795

    Total non-fire suppression calls for service 8,239

    Percent of all calls for service from WEMA that are fire suppression calls = 6.14%

    Percent of all calls for service from WEMA that are for fire suppression =
    93.86%

    Now, using the same kind of logic that has been used against us for many years, I will allocate WEMA’s costs according to usage and area covered. You see, when we hear those who are against this side of the county talking, we too often hear them saying, “everyone is covered the same”. What they are saying is that the main goal of WEMA is that everyone should fall within a five mile radius of a WEMA station. Never mind that the station that is supposed to cover those people is woefully understaffed and ill equipped, as long as they are within five miles WEMA has met its goal as far as the County Government is concerned.

    So, since we are going to allocate resources according to geographic area and not according to need, let’s go ahead and allocate expenses according to the same logic, what do you say?

    WEMA has a budget of around $7.1 Million as I remember. Since 92.86% of the calls for service are not fire suppression related, we probably need to cut out 92.86 percent of the $7.1 million before we get started. There, done. That leaves us with $435,940 remaining to pay for fire suppression for the entire county. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, you are saying to yourself, “well, Lebanon provides its own fire protection services so they shouldn’t count in this equation.” But you are wrong. You are wrong because WEMA station 1 covers at least some portion of the county that is no annexed into Lebanon for fire suppression, and WEMA covers all of Lebanon for the other services that WEMA is responsible for covering. So, Lebanon stays in the equation. Besides, this is my illogical expression of their illogical positions, I am allowed literary liberty….in other words, I am going to make this equation work any way I want it to, just watch me do it. This is getting good guys.

    Now, there are 8 stations in this county now…yep, I looked them up on the WEMA website and I saw 8 of them. Now, to be completely fair in everything we are doing here, we have to remain consistent with the type of logic that has been used against us for so many years, which means we have to divide the amount of money left to cover fire suppression costs (Remember the figure $435,940?) by the number of stations in the county. Yeah, I know that some stations are bigger than others and that some have more personnel and equipment than others, I know that, but I have to be honest and use the exact same kind of logic that has been used against us. Otherwise why even try to be fair?

    Now, if you divide that $435940 across 8 stations, it comes to a whopping $54,492.50 per station. In case you missed it, according to the same kind of logic used against us for so many years, our costs of fire suppression for station 3 is a gigantic figure of $54,492.50. However, that isn’t the end of the equation, station 3 doesn’t “Just” cover Mt. Juliet. We have to compute on.

    Station 3 covers about 34,000 people, about 10,000 of which don’t live in this city. That means that a full 29.41% of the fire suppression costs attributed to station 3 have to be reduced by 29.41% in order to arrive at a final cost of fire suppression inside the City of Mt. Juliet. That means that we citizens in this city, who are also citizens of the county, are provide with the enormous amount of funding to protect all 25,000 plus of us of $38,468.37, or about $1.53 per person living in this city. But then again, that figure doesn’t account for all the businesses in this city. Add them to the equation, with all their square footage under roof (it is okay for us to jump from one use of logic to another inside the city), an our cost per citizen is probably around $.80 per person living in this city.

    Now, I currently have four people living under my roof, so extrapolated out, my bill for all the protection I get each year comes to $3.20.

    Now, according to a report I have heard, Mayor Hutto has said that Mt. Juliet contributes about $200,000 toward fire suppression each year. If that is the case, I want this city to go down to the county and demand a refund of the difference between the $54,492.50 portion of our costs for fire suppression in this county and the $200,000 that we pay. I want my $145,507.50 back! Now, I would be more than willing to draw a line in the sand with the past, and allow the county to keep all the money we have overpaid them for who knows how long, if the county were willing to enhance services for fire suppression inside the city limits of Mt. Juliet by $145,507.50 per year at the same rate of coverage provided for our first $54,492.50 spent on fire suppression. We would get just under 4 times the coverage for fire suppression that we already get for the same money we have been spending up until now.

    So, do you see how things aren’t always as they seem? We have been paying nearly four times what we should pay for fire protection and we didn’t even know it. Well, Southside knew it, it just took the rest of us a little while to catch up. He’s so smart. He does hold the title of “Grand thinker” in the Imperial Cabal, ya know. He plays three dimensional chess on ten boards while the public officials in this county are still playing jump your own man checkers.

    Facts and figures, combined with math, can make things look just about anyway you want them to if only you are creative enough to make it happen.

  5. Amen! This is EXACTLY what I have been saying. I’m printing this off and handing it out. (It is better written than my 2 College Degree’s wrote. lol)

  6. Doc Cider

    As egregious as these disproportionate figures are, one wonders why the city should have to bear the costs of a legal battle. The state should take them to court. Those of you with Mae Beavers on your speed dialer should give her a shout. I wouldn’t bother with the other state elected official.

    With all due respect to the above proposal, isn’t having Mt. Juliet annex to the boundaries and pay for our own fire protection just what the county good ol’ boys want us to do?

  7. Pop Korn

    Is there a commission meeting tonight? Do we still have people holding office illegally?

  8. Butch Huber

    Sorry, I didn’t have time earlier to proof-read before I posted.

    Here is an interesting fact about WEMA. I looked at their website just now. On their website is a section called, “annual call volume”. So, being the curious type that I am, I clicked on that button.

    Up pops a screen with a bar graph which included the results for WEMA response for several years ranging to as late as 2008. I decided to do some math. I like math, don’t you? Data and math go hand-in-hand with one another, don’t you agree?

    According to the chart for 2008 the calls for service that came in to WEMA as a whole were as follows:

    Ambulance 5,780
    Rescue 2,067
    Fire 506
    Special assignment 365
    ST7 (whatever that is) 77

    Total Calls for service = 8,795

    Total non-fire suppression calls for service 8,239

    Percent of all calls for service from WEMA that are fire suppression calls = 6.14%

    Percent of all calls for service from WEMA that are for non-fire suppression =93.86%

    Now, using the same kind of logic that has been used against us for many years, I will allocate WEMA’s costs according to usage and area covered. You see, when we hear those who are against this side of the county talking, we too often hear them saying, “everyone is covered the same”. What they are saying is that the main goal of WEMA is that everyone should fall within a five mile radius of a WEMA station. Never mind that the station that is supposed to cover those people is woefully understaffed and ill equipped, as long as they are within five miles of a station WEMA has met its goal as far as the County Government is concerned.

    So, since we are going to allocate resources according to geographic area and not according to need, let’s go ahead and allocate expenses according to the same logic, what do you say?

    WEMA has a budget of around $7.1 Million as I remember. Since 92.86% of the calls for service are not fire suppression related, we probably need to cut out 92.86 percent of the $7.1 million before we get started. There, done. That leaves us with $435,940 remaining to pay for fire suppression for the entire county. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, you are saying to yourself, “well, Lebanon provides its own fire protection services so they shouldn’t count in this equation.” But you are wrong. You are wrong because WEMA station 1 covers at least some portion of the county that is not annexed into Lebanon for fire suppression, and WEMA covers all of Lebanon for the other services that WEMA is responsible for covering. So, Lebanon stays in the equation. Besides, this is my illogical expression of their illogical positions, I am allowed literary liberty….in other words, I am going to make this equation work any way I want it to, just watch me do it. This is getting good guys.

    Now, there are 8 stations in this county today…yep, I looked them up on the WEMA website and I saw 8 of them. Now, to be completely fair in everything we are doing here, we have to remain consistent with the type of logic that has been used against us for so many years, which means we have to divide the amount of money left to cover fire suppression costs (Remember the figure $435,940?) by the number of stations in the county. Yeah, I know that some stations are bigger than others and that some have more personnel and equipment than others, I know that, but I have to be honest and use the exact same kind of logic that has been used against us. Otherwise why even try to be fair?

    Now, if you divide that $435940 across 8 stations, it comes to a whopping $54,492.50 per station. In case you missed it, according to the same kind of logic used against us for so many years, our costs of fire suppression for station 3 is a gigantic figure of $54,492.50. However, that isn’t the end of the equation, station 3 doesn’t “Just” cover Mt. Juliet. We have to compute on.

    Station 3 covers about 34,000 people, about 10,000 of which don’t live in this city. That means that the full $54,492.50 in fire suppression costs attributed to station 3 have to be reduced by 29.41% in order to arrive at a final cost of fire suppression inside the City of Mt. Juliet. That means that we citizens in this city, who are also citizens of the county, are provided with the enormous amount of funding to protect all 25,000+ of us of $38,468.37, or about $1.53 per person living in this city. But then again, that figure doesn’t account for all the businesses in this city. Add them to the equation, with all their square footage under roof (it is okay for us to jump from one use of logic to another inside the city), an our cost per citizen is probably around $.80 per person living in this city.

    Now, I currently have four people living under my roof, so extrapolated out, my bill for all the protection I get each year comes to $3.20.

    Now, according to a report I have heard, Mayor Hutto has said that Mt. Juliet contributes about $200,000 toward fire suppression each year. If that is the case, I want this city to go down to the county and demand a refund of the difference between the $54,492.50 portion of our costs for fire suppression in this city and the $200,000 that we pay. I want my $145,507.50 back! Now, I would be more than willing to draw a line in the sand with the past, and allow the county to keep all the money we have overpaid them for who knows how long, if the county were willing to enhance services for fire suppression inside the city limits of Mt. Juliet by $145,507.50 per year at the same rate of coverage provided for our first $54,492.50 spent on fire suppression. We would get just under 4 times the coverage for fire suppression that we already get for the same money we have been spending up until now.

    So, do you see how things aren’t always as they seem? We have been paying nearly four times what we should pay for fire protection and we didn’t even know it. Well, Southside knew it, it just took the rest of us a little while to catch up. He’s so smart. He does hold the title of “Grand thinker” in the Imperial Cabal, ya know. He plays three dimensional chess on ten boards while the public officials in this county are still playing jump your own man checkers.

    Facts and figures, combined with math, can make things look just about anyway you want them to if only you are creative enough to make it happen.

  9. The county wants Mt. Juliet to have its own fire department.
    They would be thunderstruck by the annexation. It would likely put somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the county population inside the city limits of Mt. Juliet.
    It would, in effect, create a fire tax district administered by the City. The county OUGHT to create fire tax districts, but they never will. The proposal would have the effect of creating one. With a differential fire tax of $0.15.

  10. Southsider

    I agree with Publius and Butch Huber on this.

    It is a shame that the County Commission would value political rhetoric above the good of their own constituents on this. But they seem too.

    I guess it doesn’t matter since it it isn’t their money they are so willing to squander. Just the taxpayer’s money.

    Elections matter folks. Be careful who you vote for next time. It is your money this County Commission is quick to squander.

    Establishing a Mt. Juliet Fire Department will cost Wilson County a lot more than it will cost Mt. Juliet.

  11. Shawn Donovan

    Station 7 on the graphs is the calls for Statesville, which WEMA runs as a volunteer fire station. They do not have full time staffing there

  12. Butch Huber

    Shawn, I appreciate and truly value your input, sincerely and honestly I do. My example wasn’t really intended to be “accurate”. It was intended to demonstrate the idiocy of some logic that is being used against this city. Therefore, regardless of whether station 7 is a full-time staffed station or a volunteer station, it still counts in terms of my math exercise above. In real life, where people use ration and reason and sound logic, you would be right in what I believe was your position that Station 7 shouldn’t be weighted as heavily as other stations. However, we are all stuck here in the la la land of Wilson County, where too many people don’t want to be confused with facts because their minds are already made up.

  13. Shawn Donovan

    Totally agree with you Butch. Basically a big political p contest with my brother and sister Firefighters and the taxpayers in the middle…

  14. Doc Cider

    On the annexation issue there are several caveats.

    One: Many of those people don’t want to be annexed. Especially if they smell a property tax and see this mayor still in office, defying the law at will.

    Two: There is a significant housing element not built to code, building or fire suppression. Undeveloped areas should be annexed as quickly as possible. Old neighborhoods who don’t want to be annexed should be left alone.

    Three: The commission has shown an astounding ability to get nothing done and the all-talk no-action mayor leads this. When Ed Hagerty can line up two votes behind him things get done, but Ted Floyd is more interested in counting his 401k than serving the people and Bradshaw thinks he is doing the people’s work by ignoring their voice. How long do you think it would take for them to annex the high-end subdivions north of Saundersville? How many exceptions would they make (the illegally serving mayor can be worked on)?

  15. Doc Cider

    Here’s another question. Does the growth boundary create a solid wall against the county line to the west? My recollection is ‘no, it doesn’t’. If that is the case, then there is a whole new can of worms. Full coverage of, and therefore annexation to, the county line on the west side is essential for any MJFD plan to make sense.

  16. Butch Huber

    Doc, it appears you are correct. There is apparently a significant number of homes along Saundersville Ferry Road that are not included in our Urban Growth Boundary. The city’s UGB seems to cut a path through that area, essentially cutting off that portion of the county from the rest of the county. Interesting element to consider.

  17. Butch Huber

    I have been reading in the paper how Mayor Elam and Mayor Hutto have put together some proposal through which Mt. Juliet would end up establishing and running its own fire department. Gentlemen, this is not the proper solution to the situation we have here in Mt. Juliet.

    The county has two options when it comes to running a countywide fire department. It can operate it by funding it through already shared revenues or it can operate it by funding it through fire taxes.

    If the county operates the fire department through already shared revenues, it cannot use anything except for already shared revenues to fund it.

    Because fire suppression is operated under the aegis of Wilson Emergency Management Agency (WEMA), it must be determined what portion of WEMA’s budget goes toward funding fire protection and fire protection alone, and what portion goes toward funding the remaining responsibilities of WEMA, including, but not limited to, Emergency Medical Services, Rescue, Hazardous Material Response, Water Rescue, Special Teams, and Disaster Management.

    To arrive at those figures, you must apportion the costs of buildings, utilities, management, insurance, equipment, personnel costs, training, operations, and all other associated costs according to some rational and appropriate basis. In other words, if a fire engine can be and/or is used to respond to fire suppression, rescue, water rescue, hazardous material response, and disaster management, and Emergency Medical Services, then the cost of that piece of equipment must be apportioned to each of those responsibilities of WEMA according to some logical and reasonable basis. The most logical basis that I can envision would be to apportion the cost of that piece of equipment according to the level and type of usage that piece of equipment experiences. For instance, if a fire engine is used to respond to 100 fires in a year, but is used to respond to medical emergencies 500 times, and it is not used for any other purpose during that year, then 1/6th of the cost of that piece of equipment should rightfully be assigned to fire suppression. If the cost of that piece of equipment is $400,000, and it has a twenty year life span, then the cost of that apparatus (fire engine) that can logically and reasonably be apportioned to fire suppression would be $400,000 divided by 20 years divided by 6, or $3,333.33 for that year’s service.

    This same exercise must be conducted for each piece of equipment assigned to WEMA throughout the entire county.

    Once you determine the proper amount of costs for equipment to apportion to the fire suppression responsibilities of WEMA, then you have to take a look at labor costs. The cost of labor has to be apportioned between the several responsibilities that fall under the aegis of WEMA as well. Because WEMA uses its personnel for many purposes, rather than having one crew for fire suppression, one crew for emergency medical services, one crew for disaster management, one crew for hazardous material response, and so on, you must determine how much time those personnel are spending working in response to “fire” and how much time they spend working on something other than “fire”.

    Now, if some or any of the responsibilities that WEMA covers are not part of what normally and customarily would fall under the responsibilities of “Fire suppression”, but that would fall under the responsibilities that ordinarily and customarily would be covered by a “Fire department” (Please note the distinction between the terms “Fire suppression” and the term “Fire department), when the term “Fire department” is defined as “that entity being responsible for the protections and provisions envisioned by the State Legislature, when the State Legislature passed the laws and amendments to those laws associated with what is termed in those laws as being a “Countywide Fire Department”, to be the responsibilities of a “Fire Department”, and not to be a function of “WEMA”, those costs should be apportioned to fire suppression as well. However, if it cannot be definitively determined what was or was not envisioned by the state legislature in regard to which services were intended to fall under the auspices of an eventual “Fire department” and which services were intended to fall under the auspices of the Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs) across this state, the responsibilities should then fall under the auspices of WEMA as there is no legal responsibility for a city to have a fire department, however, there is a requirement for the county to have an Emergency Management Agency. Considering that there is no State Law requiring that a city establish a fire department or that a city establish an EMA, it would seem absurd to surmise that a city would have any responsibility to provide Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Material Response, Rescue, water rescue, or any of the responsibilities that currently falls under the auspices of WEMA, whether those responsibilities that fall under WEMA are required by law or not.

    Some contend that the law does not “Require WEMA to provide any service, but rather that WEMA is tasked with Management of the services provided.”
    It is immaterial whether the laws passed by state legislature require that WEMA actually purchase equipment and hire personnel to cover any of the responsibilities for management over the several elements that make up WEMA, for if the county provides those services using taxpayer money, WEMA is responsible, as is the county, to ensure that the level of service WEMA does provide is provided in as uniformly and equitably a manner possible and practicable. To provide those services in such an equitable manner, they cannot be provided on a square mile basis, but rather they must be provided on a per capita basis and/or according to the source of the revenues provided for that service. It appears to be the intention and the modus operandi of the county to do what it can to funnel money from the citizens of this city for the purposes of paying for and providing services to those who do not live in this city. This city needs to ensure that it takes no actions that would obligate the citizens of this county to pay twice for a service that they either are not getting or are receiving, but of which the quality or quantity of service they receive is not on par with the level of funding they are providing for that service. In other words, it is a function of government to protect the citizens under that government’s aegis, even if and when the threat comes from a superior level of government.

    After equipment and personnel costs are apportioned properly, the costs of land and buildings must be apportioned as well. Each piece of land and each building under the management of WEMA houses personnel and is a place where equipment is staged. The costs of the land and buildings WEMA is responsible for managing and maintaining must be apportioned based on the pieces of equipment staged there and the personnel housed there and the usage of those pieces of equipment and the usage of the personnel housed there. If fire suppression responsibilities only make up 1/6th of the use of a piece of equipment, the square footage of the WEMA station allocated to that piece of equipment must be divided by 6 and then on sixth of the costs that total space is apportioned to fire suppression, the rest should then be apportioned as a cost of the other responsibilities of WEMA. This exercise needs to be conducted for each and every piece of equipment and every single person assigned to WEMA across the entire county.

    Once there has been a thorough analysis of all the various elements of WEMA’s costs and those costs are properly and reasonably apportioned to the various responsibilities that fall under the auspices or aegis of WEMA, then, and only then, can we determine the real costs of fire protection in this county. If, after having found the true costs of fire suppression, or, more appropriately, the costs associated with the “Countywide Fire Department”. If those costs amount to more money than the county can legally provide through what is known as already shared revenue, and by “legally provide” I mean that the county cannot use already shared revenues that are already legally required to be appropriated to other funds, then the county has to, by law, establish fire tax districts. Fire tax districts then become their own choice for funding as provided by the laws and amendments to the laws surrounding a Countywide Fire Department. The county could shut down fire protection operations throughout the county, however, if it provides fire protection on any level, if that provision requires anything other than already shared revenues to provide, then they must, by law, establish fire tax districts.

    Some who fight against fire tax districts quickly state, “we tried to establish fire tax districts before”. That is not a defense against violating the law. The county is either using tax money that is generated from this city for the purpose of providing fire protection services to those who do not live in this city, or, the county is using money that can legally be provided, and should be provided, to those who live in the unincorporated areas of the county to provide coverage to those who live in the city. It has to be one way or the other, and I believe either way it turns out, the county necessarily has to be in violation of the law.

    There are many questions that need to be asked and answered before we even begin to think about establishing a Mt. Juliet Fire Department.

    For instance:
    1) If Mt. Juliet were to establish its own fire department and it took back station 3, how would WEMA provide Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Material Response, Rescue, Water Rescue, Disaster Management, and Special Teams to the more than one-fourth of the county population that lives inside Mt. Juliet City limits?
    2) If Mt. Juliet were to establish its own fire department and it took back station 3, how would WEMA provide Fire Suppression, Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Material Response, Rescue, Water Rescue, Disaster Management, and Special Teams to the more than nine thousand (1 out of 11) people who live inside the footprint of coverage responsibility that now falls under the auspices of WEMA Station 3?
    3) How much will it cost WEMA to provide the other securities, provisions, and protections that it is tasked with providing to the 1/3 of the county population that is now provided those securities, provisions and protections out of WEMA Station 3 if it has to pull its personnel and equipment out of Station 3?
    4) Has anyone done a cost/benefit analysis to determine if it is even in the county’s best interests to force this city to establish its own fire department even if it turns out they have a right to discontinue providing fire suppression protections to the citizens who reside in this city and/or to the businesses that operate here?
    5) If the city were to establish its own fire department, it would be in the city’s best interests to establish its own Emergency Medical Services (ambulance) as well because, run properly, ambulance service is a profit generating entity. An analysis needs to be conducted to determine how much money is put back into the county coffers each year from EMS in Mt. Juliet. Because the county has reported, at least to me, that about 40% of the calls to WEMA are for ambulance result in an unpaid fee for ambulance service, it seems to me that it would be prudent on the city’s part to determine which 4 out of 10 calls go unpaid. Could it be that the people who live in Mt. Juliet pay their bill for the service provided while the county doesn’t collect on those who live elsewhere in the county? I think this question must be asked and answered before we spend a dime of Mt. Juliet Citizen’s money on establishing our own services. If we are in fact funding more than the lion’s share of funding back to cover the cost of Ambulance Services, or even if we are in a situation where we would break even in regard to EMS we should establish our own service here in Mt. Juliet as the ambulance service is needed with each fire suppression call in case a fire fighter is injured or in case citizens are injured by the fire or overtaken by smoke inhalation. If we are going to have our own services, we should ensure that we make our services as powerful and effective as possible while limiting costs to a bare minimum. If we are going to build the building anyway, and if we are going to pay for training anyway, and if we are going to be raising our property taxes to pay for all of that, and if we are going to be paying for personnel anyway, we should leverage our investment to the maximum safe and practical level possible.
    6) Is the current configuration in Lebanon, meaning the city of Lebanon having its own fire department while relying on WEMA for the other services WEMA provides, cost effective or is there waste and abuse going on there? If the county is spending additional dollars that it otherwise would not have to spend due to Lebanon having its own fire department, or if Lebanon having its own fire department is creating a situation whereby the rest of the county receives less service than they would otherwise receive if Lebanon would just roll its fire department into WEMA, then I feel we need to insist that Lebanon roll its fire department into WEMA just as WEMA asked the City of MT. Juliet to do with Mt. Juliet’s Fire Department back in the 1990’s? Remember, we had our own fire department and WEMA came to the city and asked the city to give it up. Now they keep coming back, now that they have gotten our equipment and we turned over our gear to them, and they act like we are being irresponsible for not having our own fire department. The county really needs to make up its mind.
    7) What will the county do if the city were to annex a huge portion of its growth boundary into the city in an effort to raise enough taxes to develop its own fire department? There are significant numbers of people who would still live inside unincorporated Wilson County who would still need protection. Would the county really leave such densely populated areas unprotected against fire? This is not to mention the other services that WEMA is tasked with providing.

    The reason the county doesn’t want to establish fire tax districts couldn’t be any clearer. If the county were to establish fire tax districts it would have to establish them on a Situs basis. What is Situs? Situs, with regard to this situation, means that the county would have to provide services based on the funding that is provided from a specific area. The reason the fire district effort failed before is, from what I understand, because the county attempted to make the entire county one great big fire district. Rather than divide the county up into densely populated areas and low-density areas, they wanted to make it all one great big fire tax district. Had they been successful, they would have been able to continue to siphon money from the City of Mt. Juliet and spend it elsewhere even under the fire tax district model.

    This whole matter comes down to two things. The first thing is the desire of some in the county to take money from those who live in this city and use it for the provision of services to those who don’t live here. The second thing is their intense hatred of the fact that we don’t have a city property tax rate set above zero. The fact that we don’t have a property tax galls them to no end.

    To be fair, the fire protection issue is a difficult issue to understand as the laws and amendments, I think, were written in such a way to “ENABLE” the county to siphon money out of Mt. Juliet and spend it on those who don’t live here. It is almost like we have to pay dues to those who don’t live in this city, but who live in this county, for the privilege of living in Wilson County. It is as if the welcome mat was rolled out for those of us who moved here, but toll booths should have been put up to tax us as we come and go about our lives and someone forgot to order the toll booths and ever since people have been scheming to come up with ways to take our money from us for their own use. For some that believe this city is in the wrong it is a matter of misinformation and misperception. However, for others, it is a matter of intentional deception and subterfuge.

    This city commission and its individual members have a duty and a responsibility to blow the doors clean off this issue and settle it once and for all. We had a fire department, the county came to us and asked that we roll it into WEMA, now they are back at it with us again wanting us to establish our own fire department. What will be next? The county didn’t provide the level of police protection necessary for a growing community so the founders of this city established the city and eventually established a police station. Now here we go with fire protection. Does the county want to provide us with anything in return for the millions of dollars it takes from this city every year or do they want to just keep our money and have us provide everything for ourselves in addition to paying them for services they don’t provide?

    If the county were to ever establish fire tax districts in this county, along lines that make sense geographically and demographically, this end of the county would have huge increases in coverage while not much would change elsewhere in the county. That lies right in the heart of this issue. The county would rather not provide us with superior services that we are paying for and not currently getting because they want to use our money to provide those who don’t live here with free services or services that have been greatly discounted from what they would have cost had the county not offset those costs using Mt. Juliet citizen’s money. That, my friends, is the bottom-line.

  18. Smoker

    Give or take the UGB stops just north of Lebabon Rd and does not go west much past North Greenhills Rd. Maybe as much as 15 square miles of land there.

  19. Southsider

    I think the first “study” Mt. Juliet should conduct is one that determines the actual number of structure fires that occur inside the city limits every year. I bet it is a surprisingly low number.

    If a similar study had been conducted that identified the number of stray animals per year, perhaps the city would not be spending 750 dollars per dog now with a multi-million dollar facility.

    The sham of all this continues to be a news media that counts every structure fire with a 37122 zip code as being inside Mt. Juliet. That exaggerates one problem while concealing a larger one – those structures just outside Mt. Juliet city limits will not necessarily benefit from Mt. Juliet starting its own fire department.

    Fire tax districts will fix the entire WEMA funding problem.

  20. Butch Huber

    Just had a chance to proof read my earlier post. This version should make more sense.

    I have been reading in the paper how Mayor Elam and Mayor Hutto have put together some proposal through which Mt. Juliet would end up establishing and running its own fire department. Gentlemen, this is not the proper solution to the situation we have here in Mt. Juliet.

    The county has two options when it comes to running a countywide fire department. It can operate it by funding it through already shared revenues or it can operate it by funding it through fire taxes.

    If the county operates the fire department through already shared revenues, it cannot use anything except for already shared revenues to fund it.

    Because fire suppression is operated under the aegis of Wilson Emergency Management Agency (WEMA), it must be determined what portion of WEMA’s budget goes toward funding fire protection and fire protection alone, and what portion goes toward funding the remaining responsibilities of WEMA, including, but not limited to, Emergency Medical Services, Rescue, Hazardous Material Response, Water Rescue, Special Teams, and Disaster Management.

    To arrive at those figures, you must apportion the costs of buildings, utilities, management, insurance, equipment, personnel costs, training, operations, and all other associated costs according to some rational and appropriate basis. In other words, if a fire engine can be and/or is used to respond to fire suppression, rescue, water rescue, hazardous material response, and disaster management, and Emergency Medical Services, then the cost of that piece of equipment must be apportioned to each of those responsibilities of WEMA according to some logical and reasonable basis. The most logical basis that I can envision would be to apportion the cost of that piece of equipment according to the level and type of usage that piece of equipment experiences. For instance, if a fire engine is used to respond to 100 fires in a year, but is used to respond to medical emergencies 500 times, and it is not used for any other purpose during that year, then 1/6th of the cost of that piece of equipment should rightfully be assigned to fire suppression. If the cost of that piece of equipment is $400,000, and it has a twenty year life span, then the cost of that apparatus (fire engine) that can logically and reasonably be apportioned to fire suppression would be $400,000 divided by 20 years divided by 6, or $3,333.33 for that year’s service.

    This same exercise must be conducted for each piece of equipment assigned to WEMA throughout the entire county.

    Once you determine the proper amount of costs for equipment to apportion to the fire suppression responsibilities of WEMA, then you have to take a look at labor costs. The cost of labor has to be apportioned between the several responsibilities that fall under the aegis of WEMA as well. Because WEMA uses its personnel for many purposes, rather than having one crew for fire suppression, one crew for emergency medical services, one crew for disaster management, one crew for hazardous material response, and so on, you must determine how much time those personnel are spending working in response to “fire” and how much time they spend working on something other than “fire”.

    Now, if some or any of the responsibilities that WEMA covers are not part of what normally and customarily would fall under the responsibilities of “Fire suppression”, but that would fall under the responsibilities that ordinarily and customarily would be covered by a “Fire department” (Please note the distinction between the terms “Fire suppression” and the term “Fire department), when the term “Fire department” is defined as “that entity being responsible for the protections and provisions envisioned by the State Legislature, when the State Legislature passed the laws and amendments to those laws associated with what is termed in those laws as being a “Countywide Fire Department”, to be the responsibilities of a “Fire Department”, and not to be a function of “WEMA”, those costs should be apportioned to fire suppression as well. However, if it cannot be definitively determined what was or was not envisioned by the state legislature in regard to which services were intended to fall under the auspices of an eventual “Fire department” and which services were intended to fall under the auspices of the Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs) across this state, the responsibilities should then fall under the auspices of WEMA as there is no legal responsibility for a city to have a fire department, however, there is a requirement for the county to have an Emergency Management Agency. Considering that there is no State Law requiring that a city establish a fire department or that a city establish an EMA, it would seem absurd to surmise that a city would have any responsibility to provide Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Material Response, Rescue, water rescue, or any of the responsibilities that currently falls under the auspices of WEMA, whether those responsibilities that fall under WEMA are required by law or not.

    Some contend that the law does not “Require WEMA to provide any service, but rather that WEMA is tasked with Management of the services provided.”
    It is immaterial whether the laws passed by state legislature require that WEMA actually purchase equipment and hire personnel to cover any of the responsibilities for management over the several elements that make up WEMA, for if the county provides those services using taxpayer money, WEMA is responsible, as is the county, to ensure that the level of service WEMA does provide is provided in as uniformly and equitably a manner possible and practicable. To provide those services in such an equitable manner, they cannot be provided on a square mile basis, but rather they must be provided on a per capita basis and/or according to the source of the revenues provided for that service. It appears to be the intention and the modus operandi of the county to do what it can to funnel money from the citizens of this city for the purposes of paying for and providing services to those who do not live in this city. This city needs to ensure that it takes no actions that would obligate the citizens of this city to pay twice for a service that they either are not getting or are receiving, but of which the quality or quantity of service they receive is not on par with the level of funding they are providing for that service. In other words, it is a function of government to protect the citizens under that government’s aegis, even if and when the threat comes from a superior level of government.

    After equipment and personnel costs are apportioned properly, the costs of land and buildings must be apportioned as well. Each piece of land and each building under the management of WEMA houses personnel and is a place where equipment is staged. The costs of the land and buildings WEMA is responsible for managing and maintaining must be apportioned based on the pieces of equipment staged there and the personnel housed there and the usage of those pieces of equipment and the usage of the personnel housed there. If fire suppression responsibilities only make up 1/6th of the use of a piece of equipment, the square footage of the WEMA station allocated to that piece of equipment must be divided by 6 and then one sixth of the costs of that total space should be apportioned to fire suppression, the rest should then be apportioned as a cost of the other responsibilities of WEMA. This exercise needs to be conducted for each and every piece of equipment and every single person assigned to WEMA across the entire county.

    Once there has been a thorough analysis of all the various elements of WEMA’s costs and those costs are properly and reasonably apportioned to the various responsibilities that fall under the auspices or aegis of WEMA, then, and only then, can we determine the real costs of fire protection in this county. If, after having found the true costs of fire suppression, or, more appropriately, the costs associated with the “Countywide Fire Department”, it turns out that those costs amount to more money than the county can legally provide through what is known as already shared revenue, and by “legally provide” I mean that the county cannot use already shared revenues that are already legally required to be appropriated to other funds, then the county has to, by law, establish fire tax districts. Fire tax districts then become their only choice for funding as provided by the laws and amendments to the laws surrounding a Countywide Fire Department. The county could shut down fire protection operations throughout the county if they deemed it appropriate to do so, however, if the county provides fire protection on any level, if that provision requires anything other than already shared revenues to fund its provision, then the county must, by law, establish fire tax districts.

    Some who fight against fire tax districts quickly state, “we tried to establish fire tax districts before”. That is not a defense against violating the law. The county is either using tax money that is generated from this city for the purpose of providing fire protection services to those who do not live in this city, or, the county is using money that can legally be provided, and should be provided, to those who live in the unincorporated areas of the county to provide coverage to those who live in the city. It has to be one way or the other, and I believe either way it turns out the county necessarily has to be in violation of the law.

    There are many questions that need to be asked and answered before we even begin to think about establishing a Mt. Juliet Fire Department.

    For instance:
    1) If Mt. Juliet were to establish its own fire department and it took back station 3, how would WEMA provide Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Material Response, Rescue, Water Rescue, Disaster Management, and Special Teams to the more than one-fourth of the county population that lives inside Mt. Juliet City limits?
    2) If Mt. Juliet were to establish its own fire department and it took back station 3, how would WEMA provide Fire Suppression, Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Material Response, Rescue, Water Rescue, Disaster Management, and Special Teams to the more than nine thousand (1 out of 11 in the entire county) people who live inside the footprint of coverage responsibility that now falls under the auspices of WEMA Station 3 but who live in the unincorporated section of the county?
    3) How much will it cost WEMA to provide the other securities, provisions, and protections that it is tasked with providing to the 1/3 of the county population that is now provided those securities, provisions and protections out of WEMA Station 3 if it has to pull its personnel and equipment out of Station 3?
    4) Has anyone done a cost/benefit analysis to determine if it is even in the county’s best interests to force this city to establish its own fire department even if it does turn out they have a right to discontinue providing fire suppression protections to the citizens who reside in this city and/or to the businesses that operate here?
    5) If the city were to establish its own fire department, it would be in the city’s best interests to establish its own Emergency Medical Services (ambulance) as well because, run properly, ambulance service is a profit generating entity. An analysis needs to be conducted to determine how much money is put back into the county coffers each year from EMS in Mt. Juliet. Because the county has reported, at least to me, that about 40% of the calls to WEMA for ambulance ultimately result in an unpaid fee for ambulance service, it seems to me that it would be prudent on the city’s part to determine which 4 out of 10 calls go unpaid. Could it be that the people who live in Mt. Juliet pay their bill for the service provided while the county doesn’t collect on those who live elsewhere in the county? I think this question must be asked and answered before we spend a dime of Mt. Juliet Citizen’s money on establishing our own services. If we are in fact funding more than the lion’s share of funding back to the county to cover the cost of Ambulance Services, or even if we are in a situation where we would break even in regard to EMS, we should establish our own service here in Mt. Juliet as the ambulance service is needed with each fire suppression call in case a fire fighter is injured or in case citizens are injured by the fire or overtaken by smoke inhalation and we can’t trust the county to provide such services to this city. If we are going to have our own services, we should ensure that we make our services as powerful and effective as possible while limiting costs to a bare minimum. If we are going to build the building anyway, and if we are going to pay for training anyway, and if we are going to be raising our property taxes to pay for all of that, and if we are going to be paying for personnel anyway, we should leverage our investment to the maximum safe and practical level possible. It could be that, by establishing our own ambulance service, we end up countering anything the county tries to do to force us to establish our own fire department.
    6) Is the current configuration in Lebanon, meaning the city of Lebanon having its own fire department while relying on WEMA for the other services WEMA provides, cost effective or is there waste and abuse going on there? If the county is spending additional dollars that it otherwise would not have to spend due to Lebanon having its own fire department, or if Lebanon having its own fire department is creating a situation whereby the rest of the county receives less service than they would otherwise receive if Lebanon would just roll its fire department into WEMA, then I feel we need to insist that Lebanon roll its fire department into WEMA just as WEMA asked the City of MT. Juliet to do with Mt. Juliet’s Fire Department back in the 1990’s? Remember, we had our own fire department and WEMA came to the city and asked the city to give it up. Now they keep coming back, now that they have gotten our equipment and we turned over our gear to them, and they act like we are being irresponsible for not having our own fire department. The county really needs to make up its mind.
    7) What would the county do if the city were to annex a huge portion of its growth boundary into the city in an effort to raise enough taxes to develop its own fire department? There are significant numbers of people who would still live inside unincorporated Wilson County who would still need protection. Would the county really leave such densely populated areas unprotected against fire? Would the county not provide its citizens with all the other services tasked to WEMA?

    The reason the county doesn’t want to establish fire tax districts couldn’t be any clearer. If the county were to establish fire tax districts it would have to establish them on a Situs basis. What is Situs? Situs, with regard to this situation, means that the county would have to provide services based on the funding that is provided from a specific area. The reason the fire district effort failed before is, from what I understand, because the county attempted to make the entire county one great big fire district. Rather than divide the county up into densely populated areas and low-density areas, they wanted to make it all one great big fire tax district. Had they been successful, they would have been able to continue to siphon money from the City of Mt. Juliet and spend it elsewhere even under the fire tax district model.

    This whole matter comes down to two things. The first thing is the desire of some in the county to take money from those who live in this city and use it for the provision of services to those who don’t live here. The second thing is their intense hatred of the fact that we don’t have a city property tax rate set above zero. The fact that we don’t have a property tax galls them to no end.

    To be fair, the fire protection issue is a difficult issue to understand as the laws and amendments, I think, were written in such a way as to “ENABLE” the county to siphon money out of Mt. Juliet and spend it on those who don’t live here. It is almost like we have to pay dues to those who don’t live in this city, but who live in this count, for the privilege of living in Wilson County. It is as if the welcome mat was rolled out for those of us who moved here, but toll booths should have been put up to tax us as we came here and someone forgot to order the toll booths. Ever since people have been scheming to come up with ways to take our money from us for their own use. For some that believe this city is in the wrong it is a matter of misinformation and misperception. However, for others, it is a matter of intentional deception and subterfuge.

    This city commission and its individual members have a duty and a responsibility to blow the doors clean off this issue and settle it once and for all. We had a fire department, the county came to us and asked that we roll it into WEMA, now they are back at it with us again wanting us to establish our own fire department. What will be next? The county didn’t provide the level of police protection necessary for a growing community so the founders of this city established the city and eventually established a police station. Now here we go with fire protection. Does the county want to provide us with anything in return for the millions of dollars it takes from this city every year or do they want to just keep our money and have us provide everything for ourselves in addition to paying them for services they don’t provide?

    If the county were to ever establish fire tax districts in this county, along lines that make sense geographically and demographically, this end of the county would have huge increases in coverage while not much would change elsewhere in the county. That lies right in the heart of this issue. The county would rather not provide us with superior services that we are paying for and not currently getting because they want to use our money to provide those who don’t live here with free services or services that have been greatly discounted from what they would have cost had the county not offset those costs using Mt. Juliet citizen’s money. That, my friends, is the bottom-line.

  21. Paul Deyo

    In addition to what Southsider points out, there are also homes WITHIN the city limits with an Old Hickory address and zip. The likelihood of home fires will increase with homes being built on top of each other, but several things make structure fires relatively infrequent within the city. The housing stock is relatively new and built to code. ‘Older’ homes aren’t all that old and tend to be on large lots. Newer homes are, at least in principle, built to the 2003 fire standards. And there isn’t much arson here.

    I have seen the ambulance far more often than fire trucks, and I see fire trucks responsing to auto accidents more often than house fires. The UGB issue is a major one as fire stations built on the west side of the county would naturally have to respond to any emergencies in the west side of the county as they do now.

  22. Butch Huber

    Below is a letter that I intend to send to the members of the Lebanon City Counsel. If you find any weakness in it or anything that is incorrect or not accurate please advise me as I want to make an impact.

    Dear Mayor Craighead and Lebanon City Councilors,

    The content of this letter very well could ultimately save the City of Lebanon Millions and Millions of dollars. I hope I now have your attention. What I just said is true and it is serious. In addition to saving the City of Lebanon Millions of Dollars, the information that I am about to share with you could save lives and property. There, I hope I have your undivided attention for just a few moments. I am not being condescending, I am just aware that you get many letters and other correspondence and I wanted to make sure that my letter to you doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

    The City of Lebanon isn’t getting millions of dollars worth of services for which it has paid and is paying and you are doing nothing about it. You pay taxes for services you are either not getting, or are receiving at a level way below the contribution you make and the county is laughing all the way to the bank.

    Let me first introduce myself to you so that you know who I am and why I am writing to you. I am not a citizen of Lebanon, I am a citizen of the Wilson County and I am a citizen of the City of Mt. Juliet. My name is Butch Huber. I am an active citizen in this county.

    So, why am I writing to you? I am writing to you because I want to help you, and in doing so I will help myself. In other words, I have an enlightened self-interest in my efforts solicit your assistance. By helping me, you help yourselves and you also help your constituents. There, we all win. I always like to check a person’s motives when someone approaches me. I assure you, my motives are based purely on my own self-interest and on the interests of those who are my family, my friends, and my neighbors. If you consider yourself my friend or neighbor, then my motives are to help you.

    I am writing to you in hopes of winning your ear for a moment regarding the severe shortage of protection in this county in the area of Emergency Medical Service, Fire suppression, Rescue, Water Rescue, Disaster Management, Hazardous Material Response, and Special Teams. Those are all areas of responsibility that fall under the aegis of the Wilson Emergency Management Agency (WEMA). Those are also all areas in which you are not receiving the level of service for which you pay.

    Lebanon, as I understand it, spends a considerable sum of money each year to fund its own fire department. Whether or not you have a Lebanon Fire Department is entirely your business. That having been said, “because” you have your own fire department the county is shirking its duties in regard to its obligations throughout the county, including within the City Limits of Lebanon.

    You may ask, “How does our having our own fire department cause the county to shirk its duties throughout the county?” I have to agree, that is a good question. Though that seems like a relatively reasonable and simple question, the answer is actually quite complex.

    First of all, let me state again, that your election to have your own fire department is entirely your prerogative, and nobody has a right to tell your city what it can or cannot do with regard to providing for the safety of its citizenry, except of course your own constituents. Trying to tell you what to do with regard to the Lebanon Fire Department is not in any way the meaning of this letter. However, what if you could somehow have the best of both worlds? Suppose you could have a Lebanon Fire Department, but not have it cost you so much? Would you turn down a way of saving the City of Lebanon a bunch of money if by saving that money the City of Lebanon didn’t have to necessarily give up anything in return? Amazing how interesting something becomes when it is couched in such a manner as to show someone how they may save money, isn’t it?

    It is no secret in this county that there is an East Wilson vs West Wilson mentality. Over the years I believe there has been a Lebanon vs Mt. Juliet/Mt. Juliet vs Lebanon issue as well. However, in war and politics people and organizations oftentimes make for strange bedfellows. What we have here is an opportunity to scratch each other’s backs so to speak. I am sure you would like to save a substantial amount of money for your city budget and we in Mt. Juliet are trying not to have to spend money we shouldn’t have to spend. So, once you have heard me out, I am hopeful that you will take the information I am about to give to you and run with it. I am more than willing to help in any way I am able.

    Here is the situation as I see it.

    There is great sentiment outside the City of Mt. Juliet that we should “grow up and put on our big boy britches” as one County Commissioner put it. I get that. I understand where the people who share that belief develop their mindset. Truly I do understand where they are coming from. In fact, if I didn’t live in this city and wouldn’t be responsible for paying the tab for Mt. Juliet’s fire department, and had I not done the research on the matter, I would probably feel exactly the same way they feel. However, I have done extensive research on this issue and I will end up paying the tab for a Mt. Juliet Fire Department (Although it wouldn’t be nearly as expensive for me as it would be for you, but I will get to that in a moment.) I am probably the most well-informed non-fire fighter/non-public official in the County when it comes to the issue of fire protection and WEMA. I may well be one of the most well informed person in the county “period” when it comes to the politics surrounding the issue of fire protection in this county. I am not saying that to impress you as anyone can dig up information, but rather I am telling you that I am well informed to impress upon you that I am anything but ignorant regarding this issue and you might do well to listen to what I propose as I may be able to save you millions of dollars over the next few years. That having been said, I do believe that there is much more to learn in regard to fire protection and WEMA, and I know that I don’t know everything there is to know.

    Let me just state that Mt. Juliet starting its own fire department actually will cost you money, not save you money. That’s right, it would cost you money if we started our own fire department. Isn’t that strange? You would think it would be the other way around, wouldn’t you? Truth is, Mt. Juliet starting its own fire department costs everyone in the county money except, perhaps, the Citizens of Mt. Juliet. In fact, we could possibly save some money if we were to start our own fire department. Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? It can be utterly amazing how things work sometimes. Some who are beating the drum to force Mt. Juliet into establishing its own fire station will be sitting on the curb crying if and when they get what they want because they will be paying more money out of their pocket as a result.

    While you have been building your own fire department and paying a small fortune to pay for the costs of the department, you have probably been looking at Mt. Juliet and you have probably been disgusted that you are paying for your own fire department while Mt. Juliet gets a free ride, right? Well, I disagree with the mentality that we get a free ride, but I will save that argument for a moment and stick to you and how this letter and its contents can help you. Suffice to say, I think I can help you with your frustrations and help you save money at the same time. However, if I am going to help you, you have to help me, fair enough?

    Right now the County Mayor and the De Facto Mayor of the City of Mt. Juliet, Linda Elam, and Commissioner James Maness are working on hashing out some type of plan that would address the issue of Fire Suppression costs in Mt. Juliet. Before I get too deep into things let me say that I don’t believe that Linda Elam should be involved in the discussion because she has no authority in the discussions; because it isn’t part of her duties as mayor to negotiate on behalf of the city unless she is assigned by the commission to do so; because she wasn’t sent by the commission to act on our behalf; because James Maness was sent by the commission as our emissary; and most importantly, because I think she is horrible as a negotiator and she can’t, in my opinion, be trusted by anyone. I also don’t think she grasps the situation, nor do I believe she grasps the many variables and intricacies at play.

    Let’s start with how it will cost you money if the City of Mt. Juliet starts its own fire department. It costs you money in not realized future savings that you could be realizing and it costs you in direct expenses through county property tax expenditures that will necessarily happen as a result of Mt. Juliet starting its own fire department that aren’t happening currently. I bet you are scratching your heads right about now trying to figure that one out, aren’t you?

    WEMA operates out of station 3 in Mt. Juliet. That building and the land that the building sits on are owned by the city of Mt. Juliet. Where would Mt. Juliet house its fire department if we were to start one? You guessed it, right there in station 3. Why wouldn’t we house our own fire department in our own building?

    WEMA station 3 covers more than just fire suppression in this portion of the county and it specifically provides fire suppression services to more than just Citizens of Mt. Juliet from that station. In fact, it provides fire suppression services to about 9,000 to 10,000 citizens who don’t live inside Mt. Juliet from that station. If we were to take over Station 3, the county would still be obligated to provide Hazardous Material Response, Rescue, Water Rescue, Disaster Management, Emergency Medical Services, and Special Teams coverage to the entire footprint now covered by station 3 or it will find itself in court, and it will find itself there very quickly. Lebanon now has those services being provided by WEMA, albeit very sparsely, out of Station 1. Considering the fact that WEMA provides those services to Lebanon, you can rest assured that we would ensure that, at the very least, we had the same level of coverage in Mt. Juliet that Lebanon receives from the county. Fire Suppression is a very small portion of the costs of WEMA. The other responsibilities make up the lion’s share of the costs, and those costs don’t go away in Mt. Juliet just because we start our own fire department.

    So, if we were to take our station back WEMA would have to purchase land or use the Old Mt. Juliet Elementary School site for the location of a new WEMA station. Either way they go their election to force us to establish our own fire deparment here in Mt. Juliet precipitates an action which in turn creates a cost to the county; which we all ultimately pay. Additionally, the county would have to build a WEMA station that is on par with what exists in Lebanon (which is even more expensive than what WEMA now spends at Station 3). So, how exactly does Mt. Juliet having its own fire department save the county any money whatsoever? Fact is, Mt. Juliet starting its own fire department would be very expensive for the county and all who live in it, except for those of us who live in Mt. Juliet. Isn’t that a paradox? Mt. Juliet establishing its own fire station would be more expensive for the county than it would be for the city in the short term, and possibly in the long-term. How could an outcome be so topsy-turvy? This additional expense to the county is due to the fact that WEMA’s responsibilities don’t cease when Mt. Juliet starts its own fire department; because the county would have to purchase and pay for a building that it now gets for $1 per year; and because the county would likely have to build several buildings to house equipment needed to provide fire protection and other services to the County Citizens on this end of the county. All of this would be happening because some people want to force Mt. Juliet to establish its own fire department.

    You may ask yourself, “well, if it costs us money if you start your own fire department, doesn’t our having our own fire department cost the folks in Mt. Juliet?” Of course it does, but you have a right to have your own fire department, just like we have a right to have our own fire department. Now, would we love it if you were to roll your fire department into WEMA and join forces with Mt. Juliet to force the county to provide adequate, and really superlative, emergency services? Of course we would. But we do so respect your autonomy as a city and wouldn’t dream of trying to tell you what to do and what not to do.

    Because all the equipment and personnel assigned to WEMA are dual usage and multi-purpose, meaning that the equipment and personnel assigned to WEMA are each used for one or more functions that fall under the auspices of WEMA, there is an economy of scale so to speak which WEMA enjoys that you as a city don’t enjoy because all your equipment is for one singular purpose (as I understand it), fire suppression. In other words, WEMA has to have all the equipment and personnel here in Mt. Juliet regardless of whether they provide us with fire suppression support or not, so the costs of providing us with “Fire suppression” is actually negligible. Certainly forcing us into a situation whereby we have to establish our own fire station would not save the county a dime, but would actually increase its costs by perhaps a couple million dollars in infrastructure costs and perhaps a whole lot more in legal fees. Because the citizens of the City of Lebanon are also Citizens of Wilson County, your constituents would bear their portion of those inevitable costs. However, if we were to develop our own fire protection services, our ISO rating would go down, which reduces our homeowner’s insurance, and we could, and probably would, actually save some money compared to what we spend now and we would have much better services and we would be better off in the end. You see, by forcing WEMA to continue to provide the services that they provide elsewhere in the county, meaning Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Material Response, Special Teams, Disaster Management, Rescue and Water Recue, the City of Mt. Juliet avoids the costs of the provision of those services. As a result, the only thing we need to cover is actual “Fire suppression”. We already have a small volunteer force, and could easily develop a small team of full-time fire fighters, augmented by other types of fire fighters that are not volunteer and who are also not full-time fire fighters and we could have a relatively inexpensive force. Couple that with the fact that we already have land set aside for additional fire stations, land that we have offered to allow the county to use for WEMA, and you have a situation whereby we can offset our increased costs by our savings through reduced insurance premiums. You see, our costs stay relatively the same one way or another, but your costs would actually go up. I am willing to bet there are a lot of people in this county who didn’t see that coming.

    So, you see, I believe it is in your best interests as a city to help us wrangle the county commissioners into developing a comprehensive solution through which both Mt. Juliet and Lebanon are getting the service that they are paying for without forcing Mt. Juliet into what I believe would be the mistake of establishing our own fire department. I didn’t say it was a mistake for you to establish your own fire department or for you to continue to maintain your own fire department. Again, whether or not you have your own fire department is your business. I am saying it would be a mistake for all of us, the City of Lebanon included, for Mt. Juliet to establish its own fire department.

    You might ask yourself, “Well, you just got done saying that it would be in your best interests to establish your own fire station, didn’t you?” The answer to that question is , “no, I didn’t say that”. I said we would likely save money and have better services and we would be safer if we were to establish our own fire department. Do you see the difference? No, I suppose you don’t. What I am driving at is that, just because something is better, doesn’t mean it is the best solution. I want the best solution, not the most expedient solution or one that simply improves a situation. The best solution is for WEMA to provide all of us with the level of coverage that we pay for and that we deserve. Which is why I am writing you, to persuade you to help in this fight to force the county to be responsible. “Oh” you say, “now you are saying that the county is being irresponsible?” Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. I am not saying that the leaders of the county are bad people; I am saying that they are misinformed and misguided. I need you to help us make them see the light.

    Let me ask you, would it be useful to you to have ambulance service spread out throughout the City of Lebanon, or would you prefer to just keep them all in the one location no matter how far that may be from where the services are needed? Your city is certainly big enough to have ambulance services spread out, so why don’t you? (I am assuming that you don’t currently have any Lebanon Ambulance Services). The reason you don’t have those services is because the county isn’t investing in Lebanon, just like they don’t invest in Mt. Juliet. Between Mt. Juliet and Lebanon we provide the county with perhaps 80% to 85% of its annual budget not including certain state and federal funding. Are you getting what you are paying for from the county? Of course you aren’t. Neither are we. So, if you aren’t getting what you are paying for, and we aren’t getting what we are paying for, then where is the money going? Unincorporated Wilson County? That’s my guess.

    Tell me, stations 5, 6, 7, and 8, how are they funded? Could there really be that much “Already Shared Revenues” coming from those areas covered by Stations 5,6,7, and 8? Certainly not. So how are they funded? They are, of course, augmented financially somehow. How else could it be? The only logical explanation is that the county is taking money from the cities and spending in the rural areas to provide those folks with at least some modicum of coverage. How can this be justified? Do you enjoy paying for someone else’s fire protection coverage? I know I certainly do not enjoy it. I have friends that live in those areas, and I certainly don’t want to see them go without coverage, but I don’t care to pay for their coverage out of my pocket, either.

    Let’s go back. Did you catch the “already shared revenues” part of the last paragraph? What does that mean? There are several sources of “already shared revenues”. One source of already shared revenues is sales taxes. The local option portion of sales taxes are split between the county and the cities when the sale occurs in a city and the county gets all that money when the sale occurs inside unincorporated Wilson County. As I understand it, all of the money that the county gets from its portion of the sale that occur inside a city goes to pay for Schools and half of the local option sales taxes that come from sales that occur inside the unincorporated portions of the county go to pay for Schools. That leaves, at best, half of the sales taxes collected from sales that occur inside unincorporated Wilson County to go toward other funds. In addition to local option sales taxes, there are about 6 other sources of already shared revenues, however, I do believe that those revenues are very minimal. I am told that all of the remaining sources of already shared revenues that come from Mt. Juliet amount to only about $200,000 per year. If that is the case the combined already shared revenues, aside from local option sales taxes, must be minute. How could they pay for fire suppression costs throughout the entire unincorporated areas of the county combined? It is doubtful that they do cover all that expense, and if they don’t cover the expense for fire suppression in the unincorporated areas of the county, the county has some “splainin” to do. From the way that the law concerning funding of a Countywide Fire Department is written, if the county cannot pay for the Countywide Fire Department (which is only responsible for the unincorporated areas of the county) using already shared revenues, there is only one alternative source of revenues that can be used….Fire taxes. And there you have it folks, the real issue is that the county would rather do just about anything except enact fire taxes and develop fire tax districts.

    This is how we both save money if we are lucky. By enacting fire tax districts, and by getting the county to make Mt. Juliet a fire tax district and by making Lebanon a fire tax district, all taxes collected from the two cities must be spent in those two cities. Certainly, the county will want to divide up the cities into multiple fire tax districts that include both incorporated and unincorporated portions of the county within each fire tax district, however, we as citizens of these cities shouldn’t allow much of that because it is nothing more than a continuation of the same old philosophy that it is okay to take from one group to give to another. They seem to like to play a political shell game with our tax revenues. Aren’t you getting a little tired of that? I know I am.

    Again, I want to pay for my own services and I want the other guy to pay for his services. We may be at odds on that point, I don’t know, however, if you are at odds with me please let me know the next time you go grocery shopping so that I can tag along and let you pay for my groceries. You see, we tend to look at government differently than we look at real life. In real life, if I pulled up behind you in a check-out line at a grocery store and asked you to pay for my groceries, too, you would laugh at first, then when you realized I was serious you would probably get a little miffed at me for even asking. However, when it comes to government money (which is how many look at tax money rather than looking at it as “taxpayer’s money”) many people get all sappy and want to spread the wealth around. I am not uncompassionate, I am charitable, I just want to be the one who decides who is worthy of my charity and who isn’t and to whom I will be charitable. I don’t believe it is the government’s job to spread your wealth around, nor is it the government’s job to spread my wealth around. For the record, if any of you are feeling charitable, I can send you my bank account number and you can be as charitable as you would like….just kidding…kinda.

    Here is what I would recommend happen. I would recommend that you have your city attorney investigate whether or not the county could, under a fire tax district system, pay the City of Lebanon to use its fire stations and fire protection personnel for the purpose of providing the services that WEMA is tasked with providing. If that is possible, then there is absolutely no reason for Lebanon not to get onboard with forcing the county to develop Fire Tax Districts as you actually save a considerable sum of money by doing so and you don’t have to give up anything in return. This is a freebie for you! If we have fire tax districts the city of Mt. Juliet could donate the land that we have set aside for fire stations to the county for the county to erect WEMA stations on it. Because of the density of population in the two main cities, and because of the value of the properties in the cities, not only will you keep everything you want to keep, you would likely get a whole lot more than you are currently getting. Additionally, you would probably save your constituents a considerable amount of money over the years in reduced insurance premiums due to the lowered ISO rating that would most likely occur due to the increased services in your city.

    Even if the county can’t pay the city of Lebanon for use of its facilities and personnel, the county would be responsible for providing adequate fire protection in the city of Lebanon under a fire tax district scenario and it would have to provide all the other services that are now provided under WEMA and you could augment their services or, if you elected, you could discontinue your own fire department and leave it to WEMA to provide your coverage. Don’t you see, either way you go you win unless all you do is continue to push to get Mt Juliet to start its own fire department (be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.)

    As it stands, if they keep messing with things and keep trying to force this city into a situation similar to what you have in Lebanon, where you are paying the county for fire protection and aren’t even getting it and where you are paying for a whole lot more of the other WEMA services than what you are receiving, I am afraid this will turn into a nasty legal battle the likes of which this county has never seen and the end result will still be fire tax districts. This is especially true if the county cannot properly fund WEMA using already shared revenues. If they can’t, this whole matter is a slam dunk in a court of law. They can either legally fund it through already shared revenues or they have got to switch to fire tax districts, that is, of course, unless they can get the State Legislature to change the law in some way to enable the county to continue doing what it is doing.

    It should be apparent by now that it is truly in your best interests as a city commission to work arm-in-arm with Mt. Juliet to force change in this county. Together we make up perhaps half of the entire population of Wilson County, surely we can persuade the county government to do the right thing, can’t we?

    Here is the rest of the story as I have been told. I was told that Bob Rochelle drafted the amendment to the Countywide fire department law and I do believe he wrote portions or all of the act of the state legislature regarding the twenty year growth boundaries in this state. The amendment to the law regarding Countywide fire departments is uniquely written so as to specifically apply to Wilson County in that it allows Wilson County to provide for fire protection through already shared revenues. This amendment sets things up so that Wilson County can attempt to skirt any requirement to provide fire protection to the incorporated areas of the county. The twenty year growth plan has within its language that the city must have a plan of service for fire protection “other than the county”. Isn’t that provision interesting? Why would that be in that Act? Could it be in the act for the purpose of forcing the City of Mt. Juliet to establish its own fire department? Why does it specifically exclude the county? Doesn’t that seem strange to you? Shouldn’t we, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet, since we are probably the only entities in the entire state that are effected by that language, go to the state legislature and ask them to change the law in such a way that it requires that all countywide fire departments throughout the state operate with fire tax districts? What other county is going to argue against it? If they do argue against it, exclude them unless they are creating within their county the same situation that we are dealing with in this county whereby tax dollars are being siphoned off from the incorporated areas of the county to pay for services for those who live in the unincorporated areas of the county.

    If we can’t get your help, which in turn helps yourselves, and if we can’t achieve a favorable outcome, there are two remaining choices….Metro….which would shift the power base in this county to Mt. Juliet…or change state law in such a manner as to shift the responsibilities that now fall under WEMA and the many fire departments throughout the state to a state controlled and operated function, which would be more efficient than covering things through an EMA.

    In closing, I want to first thank you for reading this far into this letter. There are probably millions of dollars in potential revenues or savings in fire tax districts for you and, from what I can tell, there is no downside in fire tax districts for you at all. Join us. Help us, help you. This is really a win-win for our two cities. If you could somehow lose in this deal, please tell me how, because I just don’t see it. Failure to act could cost you millions in continued unrealized savings and it could actually increase your costs as a city and, consequently, costs to your constituents. Something to chew on, isn’t it?

  23. Butch Huber

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39516346/ns/us_news-life/

    Check out this article to see the kind of insanity that can arise from this issue. A man’s home burned down needlessly and now his son has been arrested for aggravated assault. Why? Because a county obviously doesn’t have fire protection and because the city nearest by had a subscription service and this man forgot or neglected to pay his $75 bill. This kind of insanity could easily come to a town near you soon if we aren’t careful.

  24. Butch Huber

    Just read an opinion from the state’s attorney general’s office regarding county-wide fire protection. According to his opinion, extrapolated out to apply to Wilson County, it appears that the county could establish a county-wide fire department under fire tax districts and then pay Lebanon to provide its own fire protection services. Folks, this is the solution we needed.

    The best model for fire protection is for the county fire department to provide fire protection throughout the entire county. In Wilson County we have a conundrum. Lebanon has a fire department that is as old as dirt from what I understand and they don’t want to give it up. I get that, I don’t agree with them, but I get it. So, why not establish fire tax districts, make Lebanon a fire tax district unto itself, and then pay them whatever portion of the taxes that are charged in that fire tax district to provide their own fire protection? If the county still wants this city to establish its own fire department then they can make Mt. Juliet its own fire tax district, pay us that tax to provide our own service, and we can establish our own service. Problem solved!

    I think it would be a mistake to force us to establish our own fire department, but I am okay with that if it were to be done this way. I just simply don’t want to pay twice for the same services.

  25. Butch Huber

    Just got word that there is a special meeting of the Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners tomorrow for the purpose of discussing enhanced fire protection in this city.

  26. Paul and Southsider,
    Happy New Year and best wishes to you both. Good to see /hear you in here this new year and I appreciate your points. A couple of items to keep in mind from the front lines is that, like Paul said, they are building on top of each other and they are building alot. One thing that would be beneficial would be to plan the plan with a little breathing room built in. Everyday there are more homes built and more opportunities for fire potential. Building codes are improved, but I have suspect of some of the wiring and equipment. Ceiling fams left on for LONG periods of time and especially those exhaust fan in the bathrooms. Please do not leave those things on. This past year we answered a number of calls for smoke and fire due to these items. Take care all, we’re going sledding!

  27. Paul Deyo

    Jamie, thanks for the tip. I already knew about the potential danger with ‘fart fans’, as they’re known in the trade, but I keep ceiling fans on all summer long… or I used to.

    I was a big proponent of space between houses when I had some input, and live in a newer subdivision that actually has some breathing room.

  28. Butch Huber

    Today, for the first time, I saw in TCA 5-17-101 and 5-17-102 that the county, not the city, has a responsibility and an obligation to provide fire protection in this city. The city government has absolutely no obligation whatsoever to provide, or even address, fire protection in this city, but the county does, and that requirement is quite clear once you know what you are looking for when you read the law. I don’t know how I missed it.

    The county has a lot of latitude when it comes to “how” they provide fire protection, but make no mistake, it is the county’s responsibility under the county-wide fire protection laws, to provide fire protection in this city. Now, they may opt, I suppose, not to have a county-wide fire protection system, however, if they have a county-wide fire protection system they are responsible for providing fire protection to the entire county as directed by law.

    It is from the basis that the county has an obligation to provide fire protection that all future conversations should held, rather than the other way around.

    Beyond having a responsibility to provide fire protection to the city, the county has to meet specific standards of protection as well. So, not only do they have to provide us with fire protection, that protection must be adequate. They can tax us, charge us, or otherwise collect appropriate funds to cover the costs of providing us with that coverage, but provide adequate protection they must.

    Now who needs to put on their big boy britches?

  29. Butch Huber

    Okay, so I went to the 4 pm special meeting of the board of commissioners. I sat and listened for the better part of two hours. I tried to speak, but couldn’t get the floor.

    Here is my interpretation of what I heard.

    Ted Floyd stated that he thought that the city should stop negotiating with the county until the commissioners had a chance to hold workshops to determine what their position will be in regard to fire protection.

    About the time that he got done Linda Elam had shown up and took the meeting over, stating that the purpose of the meeting was so that they could figure out what they were going to do and what the options were.

    About the time she got done speaking Mayor Hutto showed up. He got the floor and started to speak in such a way that he made me feel that he was saying that the county was doing about as much as it could for Mt. Juliet, that he had a lot of people on the other side of the county that weren’t being covered properly, and that if we want more service than what we are currently getting we would have to somehow pay for it.

    I wanted to break in to inform the people present that the responsibility for fire protection was the county’s responsibility but citizen comments were not welcome.

    At some point the conversation turned to fire tax districts, which to my surprise, seemed to be the solution that most, if not all, of the commissioners wanted. Hutto seemed to be shying away from fire tax districts, stating that they tried that before and it got shot down.

    Ed Hagerty suggested that we have another MTAS/CTAS study conducted as the old study is now about six years old and a lot has changed since then. That suggestion didn’t seem to go over especially well, but it did have at least a luke warm reception.

    After the meeting I had a chance to ask Mayor Craighead, who attended the meeting, if he could think of any reason why the City of Lebanon wouldn’t want to have fire tax districts, he said he couldn’t think of a reason because fire tax districts help the city of Lebanon, which I agree with.

    I later had a chance to spend some time speaking with Mayor Hutto. We were one-on-one in the hallway outside of the commission chambers, so I had his full attention. I made sure that he understood that the county was responsible for fire protection in this city, and he seemed to acknowledge that fact and accept it as if he already knew that. (He may have been reading my blog posts today).

    We talked about the merits of fire tax districts. He started to go down the road of “that was tried before and it didn’t work”, to which I replied, “It is obvious that our commission wants fire tax districts, and I spoke to Mayor Craighead and he said he didn’t know why the City of Lebanon wouldn’t want them because fire tax districts help Lebanon, so I can’t figure out why they wouldn’t work unless the county didn’t want them”.

    According to Hutto, there is three million dollars per year in un-obligated already shared revenues and that the fire department takes up about $1.7 milllion of those dollars. According to his calculations the City of Mt. Juliet is being subsidized by the county for its fire protection. I believe we need an independent audit to examine all the revenue streams at the county level to verify that fact. However, if we were to enact fire taxes and fire tax districts we wouldn’t really need to go into that because fire taxes are collected from a defined area and spend on that defined area, so it doesn’t matter where the already shared revenues go.

    Here is the paradigm that Mayor Hutto and I had to go through. I am not sure we see eye-to-eye on this. The comparison was drawn between Mt. Juliet and Noreen (sp). I was saying that in Mt. Juliet we have a much more densely populated area of the county and that we therefore needed more protective services. Hutto said, “you still have a square mile there and a square mile here to cover” or something to that effect. This harkens back to the thought plane that we are going to provide the same coverage for everyone by covering the same square milage. That is not the correct way to look at it, however, I can use the square milage position as well. I said, “take a square mile in Mt.Juliet and consider the property value of that square mile and then take a square mile in noreen and consider the property value there, which is going to be more valuable?” He wasn’t super quick to answer me, not because he isn’t a sharp man, because he is smart. I think he was slower to answer me than his intellect would dictate because I was winning that position. Of course the land value in a square mile in Mt. Juliet is going to be higher than in Noreen, where ever that is, because this is a very high priced area and we have a lot of homes and businesses per square mile compared to just about anywhere else in this county. The natural translation is that the money paid to the county in terms of property taxes is going to incrementally much higher here per square mile covered than it is going to be elsewhere. The value of land doesn’t come into play as long as the county keeps already shared revenues as the funding source for the county fire department, however, if we switch to fire tax districts the value of land plays heavily in the issue.

    If we had fire tax districts we could have world class fire protection in this city. The county would charge us a fire tax and then they could either provide us with the level of protection that the fire taxes could pay for or we could provide our own fire protection services under contract with the county. The county would tax us, then pay us to provide our own fire protection services. Either way, we win. We get improved fire protection services and we don’t have to be concerned with whether or not we are paying twice for the same service.

    On a side note, I asked Mayor Craighead, “why not join forces with Mt. Juliet and force the development of fire tax districts?” He was being interrupted and I was trying to find Hagerty, so I never got the answer, but I could tell that there is no reason for us not to press ahead with fire tax districts.

    I don’t believe that the solution is for Mt. Juliet to fund its own fire department, I think the best solution for fire protection in this county is a system where we have fire tax districts, Lebanon can roll their services into WEMA or keep them and have the county reimburse them the amount the county charges in fire taxes in the city limits of Lebanon for Lebanon to provide its own fire protection services, and for Mt. Juliet to allow the county to continue to provide fire protection here, albeit on a much higher level than we currently have.

    We may very well end up paying more than we currently are paying for fire protection if we have fire tax districts, but that money would go toward paying for services that we end up actually getting. I have no problem with paying my fair share, I just don’t want to pay the other guy’s fair share.

    Hutto brought up that we pay for the other guy’s kid to go to school as a basis for not getting wound around the axel about paying for someone else’s fire protection. My response was, “just because we make a bad decision in one area doesn’t mean we have to make a bad decision in another area”, or something like that.

    I impressed upon Hutto that the responsibility and the power to bring about change rested with the county. They are empowered to do most anything necessary to, and the law actually says that they are empowered to do anything necessary to, ensure that we have fire protection throughout the county. I told Hutto that the city government of Mt Juliet shouldn’t even be in the discussion. The county government should just say, “Mt. Juliet, this is the level of coverage that you need, here is a bill for your portion of the costs of that level of services Mr. Mt. Juliet Citizen, and here are the services for which you are paying”. They can literally leave the city out of the discussion. Why have two governments involved in something that one can do and do better? All that leads to is waste.

    The county doesn’t need our permission, all they have to do is pass a resolution to enact fire tax districts, establish those districts, charge the taxes to go with those districts, and the next thing you know we will have adequate services.

    They stated in the meeting that the reason that the fire tax districts didn’t fly before is because of the difficulty in calculating the fees, however, according to the law, this isn’t necessary as the entire unincorporated portion of the county is to be made one big fire tax district. The cities would become fire tax districts unto themselves unless they opt to be included in the big unincorporated Wilson County fire tax district. There is no need for calculating fees based on proximity, which is what they were intimating was necessary.

    The end analysis, we need to push for fire tax districts as we are right on the cusp of making it happen. If it is as Hutto says, and the county is in fact subsidizing us instead of it being the other way around, they will jump at the chance of establishing fire tax districts, however, if that isn’t the case, and it turns out that we are actually subsidizing them, they probably won’t want to enact fire tax district. This is where the rubber meets the road, County, will you prove that we are being subsidized by the people of the county by enacting fire tax districts or will you prove that we are subsidizing the county by avoiding fire tax districts? Do..do..do..do..do..do..do, do..do..do..do..do.dadodododo, do..do..do..do..do..do..do, do.da.do..do..do..do….do (Jeopardy music playing in the background.)

  30. Southsider

    Why would the County Mayor resist Fire Tax Districts if the county was really subsidizing Mt. Juliet’s fire protection?

  31. Doc Cider

    Question number one is of course why is Linda elam even there. Since she is ‘serving’ illegally anything she ‘contributes’ is subject to review later. She is just standing in the way, feeding her massive ego and accomplishing nothing.

    Second question is something Butch highlighted. Certainly property value per square mile, and therefore property tax collection, is exponentially different between Norene and Mt. Juliet. As Butch said, whatever Hutto proves to be, he’s not an idiot. Also, Norene is in the middle of nowhere but there is access by fast roads. Has anyone seen a fire truck try to navigate Mt. Juliet Road at 5 pm? Time is relative to population, especially when city leadership here largely went to sleep on traffic solutions after 2004, except for ribbon cuttings.

    Butch, it sounds like Craighead and Hutto were playing a game of ‘Pass the Salami’ with you. Congratulations for what verbal acknowledgements (we can’t call them committments) that you did get.

    It sounds like Hutto was speaking Rochellese on fire tax districts. No substance to his argument.When you look at the fire coverage map, it looks like it is perhaps twenty years out of date. I really think this whole process is so dysfunctional that it needs to be addressed at the state level.

  32. Actually, I don’t believe she will be serving illegally unless/until she is sworn in as a state legislator tomorrow at noon.

  33. Butch Huber

    Don’t you kinda find it interesting that they have waited until the day that Linda Elam is taking her oath of office to file their petition for declaratory judgement? What is that all about?

    Doesn’t Linda know that it would be a political mistake for her to enter into her duties as a state legislator without having resigned from her office as mayor of Mt. Juliet? She is thumbing her nose at the voters. That can’t be a good thing for her career.

  34. Glen Linthicum

    Butch, do you think that she really cares?

  35. Old Blevins

    for Mayor elam, it’s all about Mayor elam.

  36. Butch Huber

    Yeah, Glen, I think she cares a lot, I don’t believe she is done politically, I think she has her eyes set on something higher than State Rep.

  37. Butch,
    Was there any desciptive talk about what the level of operationability a MJFD would classified? Is it to be a fire department only(as with Lebanon FD where it is fire suppression, some rescue, NO emergency medical/ambulance, NO haz-mat, NO specialty rescue i.e. rope/swiftwater…)or MJ Fire Rescue EMS lik WEMA. What I am getting at is if the city has a FD only, that is not going to take a great deal of the burden off the county. 70% of our calls are medical. The other 30% roughly are made up of fire, rescue/car accidents, public assists, etc. The city is not going to get max benefit because the county will still have to do the ems, rescue, haz-mat, etc. The medical calls pay, the others do not. (They should and do in some communities…but that’s another story.) The push really needs to be for these fire tax districts to get the revenue to enhance the current infastructure that is WEMA. “Tried and shot down”/”difficulty in calculating fees” ???Surely, we are smart enough to either do this or have it done. Times and the players have changed. A well researched and realistic assessment of a fire tax districts program proposal is in order.

  38. Butch Huber

    Jamie,

    There are a lot of variables that need to be determined, such as, “what does TCA 5-17-101 mean when it authorizes a county-wide fire department?

    No, there wasn’t much particulars about the issues you asked about, Jamie. You guys have educated me to a point where I understand what you are talking about fairly well and I am pushing for the debate to go to the real issues.

    What we need is fire tax districting with cooperation. We need to have a Mt. Juliet fire tax district where the county supplies all of the components of WEMA as it exists today (or more), but where the money collected in Mt. Juliet stays in Mt. Juliet. The equipment and personnel purchase with money and paid for with money from this city can always be available for mutual aid, but their primary function is to protect this city. The money collected in the unincorporated areas of the county would be used to supply services to those who live in the unincorporated areas of the county, though in like kind, they could always be available for mutual aid into Mt. Juliet. In lebanon, the people of Lebanon can decide whether they want to provide their own fire protection services, or to what degree they want to provide any of the services now offered through WEMA and then the county can pay the city of Lebanon a justifiable amount of money to provide their own services or, if Lebanon would rather that WEMA cover everything, then WEMA can cover it.

    We really aren’t so far off of a good solution if everyone will work together. It is all in how you sell it. You have to couch the sale in terms that appeal to the other guy. Look, we aren’t raising enough money to provide adequate service ANYWHERE in the county because of all the infighting. You guys are the ones affected most by all of the infighting. We may deal with a fire department once in a lifetime. You guys deal with us every day. You guys are affected by this each and every shift. That is why you need to be a part of the discussions.

    A leader is the person who gathers as many facts from as many people as is necessary to develop a clear mental picture of the situation at hand, gets counsel from those who are experts and who have great insights and wisdom, and who have experience in an area, then he or she leads change. Are you guys being consulted by these politicians? What questions are they asking you?

    Jamie, I didn’t know this until this week. In the unincorporated areas of the county there can be only one fire tax district. You have to kinda interpret that the cities would necessarily be individual fire tax districts. They can opt to become a part of the huge unincorporated fire tax district (and the county cannot stop them) or they can remain their own fire tax district. I would vote that we remain our own fire tax district, but work with WEMA for them to provide the service. That way, our money stays here and we can be charged whatever rate is necessary to have high quality service without fear our money will just end up elsewhere. But, as I understand it, if we went to fire tax districts we would have a great big fire tax district in the unincorporated Wilson County area, one fire district in Mt. Juliet, another in Lebanon, one in Watertown, and one in Statesville.

    Mayor Hutto was intimating that he objected or disagreed with the thought path that we should get the service we pay for and the other guy elsewhere in the county should get the service for which he pays. With Fire Tax Districts you kinda get it both ways. You put your money in one of two collective pots to be shared and distributed within a defined geographic area. One pot is the Unincorporated pot, where the people of the unincorporated wilson county areas share their resources with others who live in unincorporated wilson county, and those who live in the incorporated areas share their money with others who also live in the incorporated areas. The wealth is “spread around”, just not quite as much as some would like. If we can’t have some constraints on the “Spreading of our wealth” why have cities, counties, or states at all why not just be one great big country without any boundaries at all?

  39. Butch,
    Was that a yes? Just kiddin. Hey, I’m all in on the fire tax district proposal. I firmly believe that if researched well, it will indeed help the guy across the street be better protected. My question is this, and I spoke with Mr. Kasnick this morning on the ???, would the MJFD consist of more than just a red fire truck and a couple of guys/gals running just fire calls? If this were the case, then no one would truly benefit. 7 out of 10 calls are ems not fire. The other 3 are made of mva rescue, public assist, then fire in that order. What the folks pushing for a MJFD need to realize is that they will be paying a hefty price to cover the lowest amount/type of calls. Have a great day. We’re going bowling and having lunch at Legend’s @ Hermitage Lanes. If you like onion rings, they have them as big as dougnuts. Buy 2 orders and they throw in a free cardiogram and stint. Take care.

  40. Jamie:

    Perhaps there’s a franchise available for Mt. Juliet: http://www.heartattackgrill.com/

  41. Pop Korn

    If they do come here, I hope that waitress comes with them!

  42. Shawn Donovan

    Totally agree Jamie (as is the case most of the time)

    When you look at fire departments and the level of service is varies widely like Jamie has said about Lebanon. If you look at many of the full time departments around Middle TN and nationally we all provide a wide range of services. At FFD, in particular since I work there, we do everything from Fire, Extrication, Specialty Rescue, Hazmat, and Advance Life Support Level Medical Response meaning we have a Firefigher-Paramedic at every station. The only thing we don’t do basically is transport since we contract with Williamson EMS, like all the departments in Williamson County. Most departments have gotten into the wide scope of services is because 1) the amount of fires are down and 2) because we usually have the resources and the equipment to handle the additional tasks and if not we can be trained on it.

    I’m not saying this to tell you how great the level of care that Franklin Fire provides since its come with a large price tag associated with it mostly in personnel costs (90%), since we have Six Stations and 150 personnel. I’m just saying that if we as a City are wanting to go into the fire business we need to expect the same level of service from the beginning. With the department size needed to cover our town and the costs associated with start up and maintaining it, we should as citizens expect the Mt. Juliet Fire Departemnt to respond to Fire/Rescue/Medical, because if we don’t its a waste of money. The reason we are looking at this is to improve the level of care and response times at time of emergency’s, not just for fire only since as Jamie noted in his message that we simply don’t run a lot of fire within the city limits.

    That is one thing that usual throws a lot of residents off when you say your a fire department, that we only respond to fires. In all actuality we do just about everything in emergency services, unless it involves hand cuffs or directing traffic….

    Butch, thanks for “debrief” on the meeting from Monday. I wanted to be there, but I was riding a big red truck for 48 hours…..

  43. Sonny Griffin

    We should have the fire issue squared away very quickly now.

    Jim Bradshaw has been ruled eligible by Chancellor C. K. Smith to serve the rest of his term as Mount Juliet City Commissioner and also retain his seat as County Commissioner. Therefore, he will be representing both the City and County on this matter.

    If things don’t go well, he can just sue the citizens, like he did in Mount Juliet.

    Seriously, has anyone ever heard of a bigger conflict of interest?

    Was this sort of thing not what the Charter Amendment was all about?

  44. Butch Huber

    Sent to the Lebanon Democrat and the leaders of Mt. Juliet and Lebanon.

    There are flaws in some of the thinking surrounding the County-wide Fire Department, which is really a part of WEMA. It is the county, not the cities of this county, that is responsible for the provision of fire protection to all of the county, including the incorporated sections of the county (see Tennessee Code Annotated 5-17-101 and 5-17-102). When you read those laws and understand them and then read the rest of the laws surrounding the county-wide fire protection services, you begin to develop a clear mental picture that the state legislature, when it authorized county-wide fire departments, envisioned the county, not incorporated cities, to be the responsible party for ensuring that the citizens of the county were protected and covered by emergency services. So when Hutto says, “if that is not enough for you, it’s your call”, “I’m not here to tell you what to do, it’s your city”, and “It’s really what you think your citizens need, You need to represent them and give them services” he is speaking from an incorrect position. The county, not the city, is responsible for protecting me and my family and it is responsible for protecting every other citizen of this county, including those who live inside the incorporated cities and those who live outside the incorporated cities. It is time for the county to take the proverbial bull by the horns and face up to its responsibilities and bring resolution to this issue.

    Up until now, when we have been talking about “Fire Department” we have generally be speaking about “fire suppression”. One of the reasons we have been speaking specifically about “Fire Suppression” is because Lebanon provides its own fire suppression services for the city of Lebanon, but leaves the rest of the services tasked to WEMA to WEMA, including, but not limited to, emergency medical services, hazardous material response, rescue, water rescue, disaster management, and special teams. So, when eyes are pointed toward Mt. Juliet, naturally, and understandably, the focus tends to be “fire suppression”. The problem with that focus is that we are all living with inadequate protection in regard to the services tasked to WEMA.

    WEMA cross-trains its emergency services personnel to act as fire fighters, EMT’s, rescue workers, etc. This is a good thing to do, however, they seem to count people twice as a result. That leaves us short-handed. A person cannot drive an ambulance and a fire truck at the same time. A person cannot put out a fire in Northern Mt. Juliet and rescue a person from a burning vehicle in Providence at the same time. However, the way that our personnel are counted in WEMA, it is as if the leaders of this county, and at WEMA, seem to think they can be at two places at the same time. There are 14 people on duty at WEMA west of 109 at any given shift. According to the numbers provided to me by WEMA personnel, it takes a minimum of 16 people to respond to a full-alarm call for fire service. We don’t have enough people on duty at any given time to respond to one, one, I will say that again, ONE, full-alarm fire.

    Wilson County built the new high school in the unincorporated portion of the county, yet they do not have sufficient fire protection services or equipment to protect those children. That, in my opinion, is negligence and those who are on the county commission that do not sponsor a county resolution to correct that situation should be ousted from office and replaced with someone who will address the situation. Now that we can clearly see that the county has responsibility for providing fire suppression, along with all of the other tasks assigned to WEMA, we know who to blame for the shortfall in the provision of protection in this county. The responsibility isn’t Lebanon’s, or Mt. Juliet’s, or Watertown’s, or Statesville, it is the county’s responsibility and they are not fulfilling their oaths of office when they shirk their duty.

    Now, it would be fair for someone to ask me if what I am saying is that the county is responsible for paying for all that service. The answer to that question is, “yes”, but with conditions. The state legislature gave the county broad and almost unrestricted power to deal with this issue and ensure that everyone has services and that they pay for the services that they receive. There are many ways that the county can ensure that we all pay our fair share for fire protection services, so, ‘yes’, in a way the county pays for the services, but they do it by collecting money from us on a situs basis and then provide us services according to what they collect from us. There, doesn’t that sound fair?

    The bigger issue in this county is emergency medical services and rescue. Fire Suppression makes up a very, very small portion of the costs of WEMA. Because we use our fire fighters to provide emergency medical services, and because they are being counted twice so to speak in terms of manpower strengths, we are grossly understaffed in WEMA. I communicate regularly with some of our firefighters and I hear of their dire situations, and I am convinced that we are endangering their lives because we are not addressing the entirety of the situation in this county.

    Here is another problem that they have been creating. They have been treating “WEMA” like it is something other than a county-wide fire department. Perhaps it is, but if you read the laws surrounding a county-wide fire department you will see that the county has the duty, responsibility, and power to cover all of the aspects that are tasked to WEMA through the County-wide fire department. Bet you didn’t know that. Don’t worry, I didn’t realize that until just last week and I have been studying this issue for three years. Yes, the County is actually responsible for making sure that the county-wide fire department provides Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Material Response, Rescue, water rescue, disaster management, and perhaps even special teams. Oh, yeah, and fire suppression. The county is also tasked with having an Emergency Management Agency, which, because we have a county-wide fire department, oversees Emergency management and the County-wide fire department. I know that you probably don’t believe me, and you shouldn’t, you should go to the Tennessee Code Annotated and read the law for yourself. Google tennessee code annotated and have a ball, you will see, once you have read it carefully, that what I am telling you is the truth.

    There is a way that everyone can get something that resembles a sense of fairness in this county. We can come to a place where we have equity. We just have to arm ourselves with knowledge of the law, the options, and we have to avail ourselves of the opportunities hat are afforded to us under the law to bring resolution. Lebanon can keep its fire department if it wants to, Mt. Juliet can keep its property tax rate set at zero, nobody in this county has to be concerned with whether they are subsidizing Mt. Juliet’s fire protection, or whether Lebanon is subsidizing the county’s fire protection or vice versa. The solution is fire tax districts. That having been said, it is obvious to me that those who are and have been trying to enact fire tax districts don’t understand what he law actually says, and what it doesn’t say. That is understandable. I have been reading those laws for about three years myself, and as I said, I just saw the truth in them last week.

    Those who have been pushing for fire tax districts seem to think that fire tax districts require that we have some way to compute how much service a person who lives 5 miles from a fire station gets in proportion to a person who lives 3 miles away and then in comparison to someone who lives 1 mile away. Now, there may be case law that I am unfamiliar with that could shed a different light on what I am about to tell you, but as of yet I have not seen any such case law. According the the law, the unincorporated section of the county is all to be included in one great big fire tax district. Now, I didn’t see anything in the law that said anything about incorporated cities being a fire tax district in and of themselves, but there is some language that necessarily implies that incorporated cities become fire tax districts at the same time that the unincorporated portions of the county is established as a fire tax district. Incorporated cities become individual and distinct fire districts in and of themselves unless they opt to be made part of the county fire tax district. Here is the clincher, the county cannot deny the city from becoming part of the greater fire tax district that is the unincorporated portion of the county. I will help you understand how there is a necessarily implication that cities become fire tax districts under the fire tax district system. The law says that there can be more than one fire tax district in a county. It also says that the unincorporated portion of the county becomes one fire tax district for the entire unincorporated portion of the county. Do you see it? If there can be more than one fire tax district, and the unincorporated portion of the county becomes one big fire tax district, what else is there except for incorporated cities to become the other fire tax district or districts? It has to be the cities that they are talking about when they say in the law that there can be more than one fire tax district? See the necessary implication?

    The county has to look within itself and reflect on its duty and its responsibility and “put on its big boy britches and act like a grown up county.” The county, not the cities, is responsible for fire protection, emergency medical services, hazardous material response, rescue, water rescue, disaster management, and special teams. The county can set up fire tax districts, hire experts to analyze what is needed to provide adequate fire protection in each portion of the county, then tax us accordingly. The county can choose to expand its coverage to provide that adequate service if it chooses, the county can meet with the individual cities to discuss and come up with a comprehensive plan through which the county and the city take on responsibilities on a shared basis and through a funding program that is legal and makes sense and through which both the city and the county agree, the county can contract with the cities to have the cities provide those services if the city agrees to provide them, and the list goes on and on. In the end analysis, the county has the burden for the provision of these services and the county has been acting like it is Mt. Juliet’s responsibility and all the while Lebanon has been footing the bill for their own fire protection when it is the county’s responsibility to provide it. Let me be clear, it is the county’s responsibility to PROVIDE it, it is OUR responsibility to pay for the services we want and/or need. The county, and the county alone, has the right, the duty, and the power to see to it that we are safe. It is time for the county to take appropriate action and stop acting like our city government’s are at fault.

    It is from the basis that the onus is on the county to take charge of this situation that all future talks should proceed.

  45. Butch Huber

    Steps to resolution of the short fall of Emergency Services provision in Wilson County.

    Step 1: Agreement that there is a problem and agreement that we will resolve that problem.

    All of the governmental leaders need to come together and collectively agree that Wilson County in general has a severe and dangerous shortage when it comes to the provision of Emergency Services.

    All of the governmental leaders need to recognize that the shortfall that needs to be addressed is not just in the area of “Fire Suppression”, but that the shortfall includes, but is not limited to, Emergency Medical Service, Rescue, Water Rescue, Hazardous Material Response, Disaster Management, perhaps special teams, and fire suppression.

    All of the governmental leaders need to recognize that, under 5-17-101 and 5-17-102, the county has command and control over this issue and it has the power and authority to do whatever is necessary to provide protection to all of Wilson County.

    All of the governmental leaders need to recognize that, under 5-17-102, the county has the authority and responsibility not only to provide “fire suppression” services, but it also has the authority and responsibility to do all things necessary to provide emergency medical services, hazardous material response, rescue, water rescue, disaster management, and even perhaps special teams under the aegis of the County-wide fire department.

    All governmental leaders in this county need to agree to subordinate their political will to the needs of the citizens of this county and work with the county government as they seek out a durable and equitable solution to the shortfall in the provision of services under the County-wide Fire Department.

    All Governmental leaders, and citizens, need to recognize that the leadership of this county has been addressing this situation from the wrong vantage point for many years, and that, as a result of that misperception, there is now a gross shortfall in coverage throughout Wilson County and that the shortfall will not be eradicated in just one or two years, but that it is more likely a 5 or even 10 years project to fully address and resolve this problem.

    All government leaders, and citizens, need to come together, share ideas, share ideals, participate, help, work, volunteer, and get behind a collective effort to resolve this issue as quickly and as safely as possible.

    All governmental leaders of this county need to recognize that there needs to be a vast community awareness program implemented to apprise citizens of the severity of the situation and ask for donations for and participation in the effort to resolve this problem. You have to get everyone to take the issue of inadequate services from the County-wide fire department very seriously and soberly so that we can bring about change and shatter paradigms that have existed in this county for ages. We are all, each and every one of us, citizens of this county, and we all need to be good neighbors to one another. The bitterness and in-fighting is leaving us all either unprotected of under-protected in the areas tasked to WEMA and to the County-wide Fire department.

    We all need to recognize that, for whatever reason, we have been going about protection in this county all wrong for a long time and that change and cooperation is paramount in the effort to bring about resolution.

    I recommend multiple community events to be held at our parks, schools, and government buildings throughout the county. At those events we could have units of the several fire departments throughout the county and police and Sheriff’s departments and other safety personnel in attendance, along with the leaders of our several governments. Those events could be places where we can share ideals and ideas, address concerns, and obtain literature regarding the issue and become informed of the needs and discover how we may all become involved and help in the effort. Do not leave the citizen out of the equation, include us so that we may play our part in the solution.

    Step 2. Begin.

    Whenever I go on a journey, I like to make sure I know two things before I begin. I want to know where I am presently, and I want to ensure that I have a crystal clear idea of where it is that I want to go. Only when I know those two data points can I develop a cohesive and accurate course that will take me to my destination. With that in mind, I suggest that we assess exactly what our current capabilities and assets are and then determine what the ideal situation would look like when complete. There is no need for us to become overly protected to an extreme, but then again, it is unsatisfactory for us to be under-protected either. We need to rely on experts to develop a plan of action to resolve the shortfall in protection coverage and develop an idea of what the ideal coverage looks like now, in five years, in ten years, and in twenty years from now. It would be unprofessional to develop a plan to provide protection at the level we will need in five years when it will likely take five years to get to that level, only then to be behind the eight ball for continuing coverage in a county that is still growing. We need a concise and reliable plan of attack for the resolution of this situation and for a continuous competent and capable system of coverage in the future. That is not to say that we need to develop a system now that will cover us twenty years from now when we get there and until then we have services that are vastly more than we need. We need to be visionaries, but at the same time realists. We can develop a plan through which we have the level of coverage that we need when we need it. As the county and Cities all grow, we need a comprehensive plan that will enable the county to ensure that we have the level of protection we need when we need it.

    3. Drive out fear and competition and develop trust:

    We won’t get anywhere while we are all fearful that something is going to be taken from us, provided to someone else when we aren’t getting it, or while we are thinking we are paying for someone else’s coverage. Neither will we get far if we are competitive in the drive to attract new businesses to our separate areas of the county. Rather than work against one another, we need to be supportive of one another and help bring jobs and businesses to this area whether those jobs and businesses locate in Watertown, Lebanon, Statesville, unincorporated Wilson County or Mt. Juliet. More jobs mean our children and our children’s children have a means of employing themselves and an incentive to establish their businesses and their homes here in Wilson County. To that end, it only makes sense that we all work together to cooperatively build and develop this county in a logical and reasonable manner; a manner that helps hold on to the character and charm of this county, its open spaces, and its nature, but that also enables responsible growth in the number of citizens who live here and businesses that operate here. We are going to deal with growth, as growth is a natural occurrence, we just need to do what we can to control and shape that growth so that we remain balanced as a community.

    We need to learn to trust one another as citizens and as leaders of this community. You cannot develop trust until you begin a dialog. Everyone must start talking to one another so that we can express our ideals, our ideas, and our differences. Everyone has emotions in regard to the topics that need to be addressed, but everyone has a vested interest in resolving the issues as well. The only way to resolve an issue is to assess the situation and then begin the process of resolution. To bring resolution we need the buy-in of the public. To get the buy-in of the public they need to know what is legal, what is lawfully required and expected, and they need to know that there are governmental guarantees and assurances that they will not be betrayed or shortchanged in the effort. It is understandable, given the level of acrimony and lake of communication that has existed in this county for years why people don’t trust one another. It is time to usher in a new era in this county, an era of trust and cooperation. You government leaders who are reading this writing, it falls upon you to set the stage for a civil discourse to bring resolution to this pressing and dangerous issue.

    You leaders of this county have the opportunity to develop a paragon in the area of emergency services. Out of our divisiveness and vitriol you can bring forth an ideal model of emergency services in this state, and perhaps this country, but you have to be willing to cooperate, compromise, and negotiate in a friendly manner, and you have to humble yourselves.

    To bring this to a point of action, I recommend that each government body in this county appoint one person to a collective board for every 2,000 people under their jurisdiction. The county government would have as many as 50 or 60 people on the committee, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet would have approximately 13 people each, and so on. That committee should be tasked with communicating with citizens, working with MTAS and CTAS, working with fire fighters and WEMA, working with professionals in the area of emergency services who can help us design and develop a comprehensive and progressive plan of action for the provision of emergency services both now and in the future, working with lawyers to determine what is legal and what isn’t legal, and addressing all things associated with the development of a solution.

    Each government of this county should help pay for a team of lawyers to investigate the laws surrounding a county-wide fire protection service and develop a framework from which the committee can operate and develop suggested actions to the elected officials of this county to free up the process of resolution.

    Bond and grant experts should be retained to explore all possibilities for the acquisition of bonds and grants to fund the change and transformation of our county-wide fire department.

    A volunteer organization should be formed through which much work can be accomplished while the process is being developed.

    A fundraising campaign should be organized to solicit funds and donations to the cause. Every business and every citizen in this county should be asked to contribute and to participate in raising funds to pay for the change and transformation. Every church should be asked to become involved and to help inform and advise the public about the need for change.

    A lobby organization should be formed to lobby our state government to provide funds, loans, and other assistance, including direct grants, to help us as we develop an ideal model for the provision of emergency services, a model that the state legislature can then use to help other counties throughout this state develop their Emergency Management Agencies. The lobby organization should also encourage members of our State Legislature to become very active and involved in this process. We should advise them that we are working toward developing an ideal model for the provision of Emergency Management in this state and that we would like their assistance and we invite their involvement at every level and at every stage of the process.

    This is all included under the heading “Drive out fear and competition and develop trust because people who are communicating and working together toward a common goal get to know one another and learn to care for one another and before long you have a situation where fear, distrust and competition are greatly diminished or eradicated altogether.

    Step 4. Continuous Improvement:

    Everything needs to be documented and measured and the results calculated. Documentation and recording the process will be invaluable to us in the future, but also to other counties that begin the process as well. We can help the rest of the state by being diligent in our documentation. However, we can also develop insights and profound knowledge that will enable us to save money, cut costs, and leverage our assets and abilities if we only pay attention to the details and document and measure everything as we progress. Empirical knowledge tends to compound the longer you do a thing, we should endeavor to always be learning and growing. This process should not be looked upon as being a quick fix, but a continual process without a foreseeable end. It won’t always have to be a large organization in Wilson County, but we should always have a committee to examine where we are with regard to emergency services provision and to determine what course of action we will need to take now in order to be prepared to provide adequate and appropriate coverage in the future.

    Education will be paramount in this endeavor. We need to educate and train the people involved so that they have a deep understanding of what is needed and so that they are equipped with the requisite knowledge to be capable of leading the transformation process. Whatever team is developed, they need broad authority to do whatever they need, with government approval if and when necessary, to develop the model. For instance, they may need to examine the training process that fire fighters and fire responders go through to qualify to be employed by WEMA. They may need to ride on the apparatus and go to live emergency situations in order to develop a feel for what is needed. They should be authorized to do most anything they need to do to help them develop a crystal clear mental image of what the appropriate solution is and how to implement it.

    This is not to say that we need people who are experts on every aspect of this situation before we can start down the road to providing adequate and appropriate protection in this county, it is to say that this isn’t a ten minute solution to a 20 to 30 year problem. There are Urban Growth areas to contend with, remnants of the county after annexation of urban growth boundaries to contend with, remote portions of the county to consider, potential future growth inside the unincorporated sections of the county to consider, and a myriad of other issues to contend with, now and in the future and we need to have a professional and competent team of people who can advise our political leaders as to recommended courses of action, both now and in the future. If we can develop a bipartisan (so to speak) committee to address these issues and if those persons can remain on a committee despite elections of new elected officials (if that is possible), we can have a professional team of people who have the knowledge and expertise necessary to lead and continue to lead the transformation process. That team, once trained and developed, could become a transformation team throughout the state.

    We need to develop a comprehensive emergency services agency system state wide. The state legislature directed the counties of this state to develop Emergency Management Agencies, but didn’t seem to provide much oversight and/or direction. The time for change in that area is now. The threat of terrorism and man made disasters is not going away anytime soon. In fact, the threats caused by man, either through terrorism or through impact on environment, will only grow over time. It is irresponsible for our government to not address this issue on a statewide level. It is in everyone’s interests to resolve this issue here in Wilson County. We were the first, or among the first, to develop a county-wide fire department in this state. Now it is time for us to provide leadership and develop a fully functional, ideal system, that provides adequate protection as needed and as paid for by the people who receive that service.

    Escalation is part of the solution. We need to escalate this issue to the state level. Eventually, by escalating this issue to the state level, we may be able to, and likely will, develop an economy of scale that will help us greatly curtail costs, which ultimately saves us all money and provides added security and protection.

    Step 6: never, ever stop.

    The need for protection against things that can harm us will never stop, therefore the effort to protect the citizenry should never stop. Excuses and blame can no longer be tolerated. We need to take the can-do attitude and usher in a new era in this county, and throughout this state, and bring about change. We have to remain vigilant and take an aggressive posture toward those things that can harm us. We live in an area that frequently deals with tornadoes, where we have to deal with flooding, including the very nasty flood that occurred this past year, and we have other potential disasters to contend with as well. We have great need for a statewide network of highly capable and connected departments that provide aid and assistance to those in need. The recent debacle in Lebanon is a testimony that we need better cooperation, command and control, and that we need a health level of duplication and redundancy in the area of emergency services. The need for coverage does not cease in one area when there is an emergency in another area, however, our system is currently designed as if that were the case. We need to do better, much better, and we can.

  46. 7. Forget about yesterday. It is all about today and even more about tomorrow. Measures that were tried in the past and failed were tried by different people with different agendas. Things that were said and things that were implied need to be forgiven and forgotten. No more cute sayings in “quotes'”. Respect, respect, respect. The effort to save your life and your home is bigger that any ego feed. It is not now nor has it ever been about me, but about you. It’ not about power or position…it’s about serving and preserving.

    Col 3:17

  47. Butch Huber

    Jamie, I partially agree with you. Words have power, and when spoken to provoke and anger they tend to taste bad when they come back up. People need to learn that they just can’t say anything they want to say and just expect others to overlook their arrogance and abrasive speech and gestures. Sometimes a dose of one’s own medicine is exactly what the doctor ordered. That said, I do agree with the forgive and forget thing. I believe that respect is something that you earn. There are people who have avoided and skirted this issue for all to long now and it is time for them to be held accountable. Any person who is harmed, endures pain, suffers hardship, or is killed in this county as a result of politicians ignoring their duties and responsibilities and as a result of not digging in to find the appropriate and legal solution, especially now that we have done most of their work for them, should be held accountable and should be reminded again and again the result of their inaction and stubbornness until such time as they are truly sorrowful. There are people who need to have their paradigm shifted, Jamie, and I aim to shift it for them. Sometimes the remedy for a stiff neck is a swift kick in the pants.

  48. Brother Butch,
    I am going to leave a lot of that for Him.

    Romans 14:12-13
    Luke 6:37
    1 Corinthians 4:5
    Ezekial 16:63
    Ephesians 4:29-32
    Have a safe night and a great week.

  49. Butch Huber

    Brother Jamie,
    Trust me, I leave a lot for Him also. You just read and hear the overflow.

  50. Duly noted. Have a great day.
    Hebrews 2:12

  51. Butch
    Below are the laws surrounding WEMA and the County-wide Fire Department. I suspect few will actually read it, however, it is posted here for those who wish to read it and who care what it actually says. For those who can see no solution other than a Mt. Juliet Fire Department, please show me where this city is required to have a fire department and then show me where the law lets the county off the hook in regard to the provision of services. If the evidence exists that enables the county to get off the hook then I would hope that someone would point it out to me, because I just don’t see it. 58-2-101. Chapter definitions. — As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires: (1) “Agency” means the Tennessee emergency management agency (TEMA); (2) “CLEO” means the chief local elected official; (3) “Compacts” means the emergency management compacts included in parts 4 and 7 of this chapter; (4) “Disaster” means any natural, technological, or civil emergency that causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to result in a declaration of a state emergency by a county, the governor, or the president of the United States. “Disaster” is identifiable by the severity of resulting damage, as follows: (A) “Catastrophic disaster” means a disaster that will require massive state and federal assistance, including immediate military involvement; (B) “Major disaster” means a disaster that will likely exceed local capabilities and require a broad range of state and federal assistance; and (C) “Minor disaster” means a disaster that is likely to be within the response capabilities of local government and to result in only a minimal need for state or federal assistance; (5) “EMA” means a local emergency management agency of a political subdivision; (6) “Emergency” means an occurrence, or threat thereof, whether natural, technological, or manmade, in war or in peace, that results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population, or substantial damage to or loss of property; provided, that natural threats may include disease outbreaks and epidemics; (7) “Emergency management” means the preparation for, the mitigation of, the response to, and the recovery from emergencies and disasters. Specific emergency management responsibilities include, but are not limited to: (A) Reduction of vulnerability of people and communities of this state to damage, injury, and loss of life and property resulting from natural, technological, or manmade emergencies or hostile military or paramilitary action; (B) Preparation for prompt and efficient response and recovery to protect lives and property affected by emergencies; (C) Response to emergencies using all systems, plans, and resources necessary to preserve adequately the health, safety, and welfare of persons or property affected by the emergency; (D) Recovery from emergencies by providing for the rapid and orderly start of restoration and rehabilitation of persons and property affected by emergencies; (E) Provision of an emergency management system embodying all aspects of pre-emergency preparedness and post emergency response, recovery, and mitigation; and (F) Assistance in anticipation, recognition, appraisal, prevention, and mitigation of emergencies which may be caused or aggravated by inadequate planning for, and regulation of, public and private facilities and land use; (8) “Emergency management preparedness and assistance trust fund” means a trust fund to be administered solely by TEMA. All funds collected by the state and placed in this trust fund shall be designated for emergency management purposes only; (9) “Emergency services coordinator” or “ESC” means the person or persons selected by the head of each executive branch agency or commissioner designated by the governor and includes alternates. The ESC and an alternate will be responsible for coordinating with the agency on emergency preparedness issues, preparing and maintaining emergency preparedness and post disaster response and recovery plans for their agency, maintaining rosters of personnel to assist in disaster operations, and coordinating appropriate training for agency personnel; (10) “Energy emergency” means a condition of danger to the health, safety, welfare, or economic well being of the citizens of the state of Tennessee arising out of a present or threatened shortage of usable energy resources; also any condition of substantial danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the state of Tennessee resulting from the operation of any electrical power generating facility, the transport of any energy resource by any means whatsoever, or the production, use or disposal of any source material, special nuclear material, or by-product material as defined by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, 68 Stat. 919, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2011-2394; also any nuclear incident, as defined by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, occurring in or outside the state of Tennessee, substantially affecting the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of this state; (11) “Energy resources” includes all forms of energy or power, including without limitation, oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products; natural or synthetic gas; electricity in all forms and from all sources; and other fuels of any description; (12) “Entity” includes a firm, business, for profit and not-for-profit corporation, profit and not-for-profit unincorporated association, partnership, and two (2) or more persons having a joint or common economic interest; (13) “GAR” means the governor’s authorized representative; (14) “Local emergency management agency” means an organization created in accordance with the provisions of this chapter to discharge the emergency management responsibilities and functions of a political subdivision; (15) “Manmade emergency” means an emergency caused by an action against persons or society, including, but not limited to, enemy attack, sabotage, terrorism, civil unrest, or other action impairing the orderly administration of government; (16) “Mobile reserve unit” means an organization for emergency management created in accordance with the provisions of this chapter by state or local authority to be dispatched by the governor to supplement local organizations for emergency management in a stricken area; (17) “Natural emergency” means any emergency caused by a natural event, including, but not limited to, a storm, a flood, a drought, or an earthquake; (18) “Person” includes a natural person or entity organized under the laws of this state or any other state or territory of the United States or the federal government, as the case may be, and includes both the singular and plural; (19) “Political subdivision” means any municipality or county, including any county having metropolitan form of government, created pursuant to law; (20) “Public official” means an elected or appointed person in the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the state or any political subdivision of the state; (21) “SCO” means state coordinating officer; (22) “Technological emergency” means an emergency caused by a technological failure or accident, including, but not limited to, an explosion, transportation accident, radiological accident, or chemical or other hazardous material incident; and (23) “TEMP” means Tennessee emergency management plan. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1; 2006, ch. 588, § 1; 2009, ch. 288, § 2.] 58-2-102. Legislative intent. — (a) The general assembly finds and declares that the state is vulnerable to a wide range of emergencies, including natural, technological, terrorist acts, and manmade disasters, all of which threaten the life, health, and safety of its people; damage and destroy property; disrupt services and everyday business and recreational activities; and impede economic growth and development. The general assembly further finds that this vulnerability is exacerbated by the growth in the state’s population, in the elderly population, in the number of seasonal vacationers, and in the number of persons with special needs. This growth has greatly complicated the state’s ability to coordinate its emergency management resources and activities. (b) It is the intent of the general assembly to reduce the vulnerability of the people and property of this state; to prepare for efficient evacuation or shelter-in-place of threatened or affected persons; to provide for the rapid and orderly provision of relief to persons and for the restoration of services and property; and to provide for the coordination of activities relating to emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation among and between agencies and officials of this state, with similar agencies and officials of other states, with local and federal governments, with interstate organizations, and with the private sector. (c) It is further the intent of the general assembly to promote the state’s emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation capabilities through enhanced coordination, long-term planning, and adequate funding. State policy for responding to disasters is to support local emergency response efforts. In the case of a major or catastrophic disaster, however, the needs of residents and communities will likely be greater than local resources. In these situations, the state must be capable of providing effective, coordinated, and timely support to communities and the public. Therefore, the general assembly hereby determines and declares that the provisions of this chapter fulfill a compelling state interest. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1; 2002, ch. 849, § 7a.] 58-2-103. Policy and purpose. — (a) Because of the existing and continuing possibility of the occurrence of emergencies and disasters resulting from natural, technological, or manmade causes, including acts of terrorism and the recovery therefrom; in order to ensure that preparations of this state will be adequate to deal with, reduce vulnerability to, and recover from such emergencies and disasters; to provide for the common defense and to protect the public peace, health, and safety; and to preserve the lives and property of the people of the state, it is hereby found and declared to be necessary to: (1) Create a state emergency management agency to be known as the “Tennessee emergency management agency” (TEMA), to authorize the creation of local organizations for emergency management in the political subdivisions of the state, and to authorize cooperation with the federal government and the governments of other states; (2) Confer upon the governor, TEMA, and the governing body of each political subdivision of the state the emergency powers provided herein; (3) Provide for the rendering of mutual aid among the political subdivisions of the state, with other states, and with the federal government with respect to carrying out all emergency management functions and responsibilities; (4) Authorize the establishment of such organizations and the development and employment of such measures as are necessary and appropriate to carry out the provisions of this chapter; and (5) Provide the means to assist in the prevention or mitigation of emergencies which may be caused or aggravated by inadequate planning for, and regulation of, public and private facilities and land use, not to exclude flood plain management. (b) It is further declared to be the purpose of this chapter and the policy of the state that all emergency management functions of the state be coordinated to the maximum extent with comparable functions of the federal government, including its various departments, agencies of other states and localities, and private agencies of every type, to the end that the most effective preparation and use may be made of the manpower, resources, and facilities of the nation for dealing with any emergency that may occur. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-104. Creation of agency — Director and deputies. — (a) The governor is hereby authorized and directed to create a state agency to be known as the “Tennessee emergency management agency” (TEMA) under the adjutant general for day-to-day administrative purposes and, upon the recommendation of the adjutant general, to appoint a director of the TEMA, who shall be the administrator thereof. The director shall hold office at the pleasure of the governor, and shall receive such salary as is fixed by the adjutant general and approved by the governor. The agency shall authorize the creation of local organizations for emergency management in the political subdivisions of the state, and authorize cooperation with the federal government and the governments of other states. (b) The governor is hereby authorized to appoint such deputy directors of the agency as the governor may in the exercise of the governor’s sound discretion deem necessary, and such directors, in the discretion of the governor and upon the recommendation of the adjutant general, may be state employees who shall serve in such capacity without additional compensation. (c) The director, subject to the direction and control of the governor, acting through the adjutant general, shall be the executive head of the agency and shall be responsible to the governor for carrying out the program for TEMA for the state of Tennessee. The director shall coordinate the activities of all organizations for the agency within the state and shall maintain liaison with and cooperate with emergency management agencies and organizations of other states and of the federal government. For normal day-to-day administrative functions, the director shall report to the adjutant general. During emergency conditions, the agency and director shall report to the governor or the governor’s designee. General coordination with the adjutant general shall be maintained. The department of the military shall become a resource for the state as with all other departments and agencies; further, the director shall make recommendations to the governor for the use of the national guard and other state resources as disaster conditions mandate, including, but not limited to, the assistance of local and private agencies. The director shall coordinate with the governor’s office on the activation or the potential activation of any mutual aid agreement or compact. (d) The adjutant general, upon the recommendation of the director, may employ such area directors, professional, technical, clerical, stenographic, and other personnel, and the adjutant general shall fix their compensation and may make expenditures from available funds appropriated for the military department or from funds made available to the adjutant general for purposes of emergency management, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter. The director shall be provided with necessary, and appropriate office space, furniture, supplies, stationery, printing and equipment, including but not limited to, radio, radiological and any and all other proper equipment necessary to carry out the emergency management program for the state. The necessary mileage, office expenses, salaries of personnel, postage, telephone and expressage shall be chargeable to any funds available for emergency management. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-105. Limitations. — Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to: (1) Interfere with the course or conduct of a labor dispute, except that actions otherwise authorized by this chapter or other laws may be taken when necessary to forestall or mitigate imminent or existing danger to public health or safety; (2) Interfere with dissemination of news or comment on public affairs; but any communications facility or organization, including, but not limited to, radio and television stations, wire services, and newspapers, may be required to transmit or print public service messages furnishing information or instructions in connection with an emergency; (3) Affect the jurisdiction or responsibilities of police forces, firefighting forces, units of the armed forces of the United States, or any personnel thereof, when on active duty; state, local, and interjurisdictional emergency plans shall place reliance upon the forces available for performance of functions related to emergencies; and (4) Limit, modify, or abridge the authority of the governor to proclaim martial rule or exercise any other powers vested in the governor under the constitution, statutes or common law of this state independent of or in conjunction with this chapter; provided, that the authority shall be limited to the extent provided under § 58-2-107(m) and as otherwise specifically provided by statute. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1; 2009, ch. 288, § 3.] 58-2-106. Emergency management responsibilities and powers. — (a) The agency is responsible for maintaining a comprehensive statewide program of emergency management. The agency is responsible for coordination with efforts of the federal government with other departments and agencies of state government, county governments, municipal governments and school boards, and private agencies that have a role in emergency management. The director of the agency shall be the state coordinating officer (SCO) and the governor’s authorized representative (GAR). (b) The agency is responsible for carrying out the provisions of this chapter. In performing its duties under this chapter, the agency shall: (1) Prepare a TEMP and maintain an accountable ESC program, which shall be integrated into and coordinated with the emergency management plans and programs of the federal government. The plan shall be implemented by a continuous, integrated comprehensive emergency management program. The plan must contain provisions to ensure that the state is prepared for emergencies and minor, major, and catastrophic disasters, and the agency shall work closely with local governments and agencies and organizations with emergency management responsibilities in preparing and maintaining the plan. The TEMP shall be planning, response, recovery and mitigation oriented and shall include the following: (A) An evacuation component that includes specific regional and interregional planning provisions and promotes intergovernmental coordination of evacuation activities; (B) A shelter component that includes specific regional and interregional planning provisions and promotes coordination of shelter activities between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors; (C) A postdisaster response and recovery component that includes specific regional and interregional planning provisions and promotes intergovernmental coordination of postdisaster response and recovery activities. This component must provide for postdisaster response and recovery strategies according to whether a disaster is minor, major, or catastrophic. The postdisaster response and recovery component must, at a minimum: (i) Establish the structure of the state’s postdisaster response and recovery organization; (ii) Establish procedures for activating the state’s plan; (iii) Set forth policies used to guide postdisaster response and recovery activities; (iv) Describe the chain of command during the postdisaster response and recovery period; (v) Describe initial and continuous postdisaster response and recovery actions; (vi) Identify the roles and responsibilities of each involved agency and organization; (vii) Provide for a comprehensive communications plan, including, but not limited to, a computerized telephone emergency warning system; (viii) Establish procedures for monitoring mutual aid agreements; (ix) Provide for assessment teams; (x) Ensure the availability of an effective statewide urban search and rescue program coordinated with the fire services; (xi) Ensure the existence of a comprehensive statewide medical care plan; and (xii) Establish systems for coordinating volunteers and accepting and distributing donated funds and goods; (D) Additional provisions addressing aspects of preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation as determined necessary by the agency; (E) Address the need for coordinated and expeditious deployment of state resources, including the Tennessee national guard and requesting of federal assets; (F) Establish a system of communications and warning to ensure that the state’s population and emergency management agencies are warned of developing emergency situations and can communicate emergency response decisions; (G) Establish guidelines and schedules for exercises that evaluate the ability of the state and its political subdivisions to respond to minor, major, and catastrophic disasters and support local emergency management agencies. Such exercises shall be coordinated with local governments and, to the extent possible, the federal government; and (H) Assign lead and support responsibilities to state agencies and personnel for emergency support functions and other support activities; (2) Adopt standards and requirements for county emergency management plans. The standards and requirements must ensure that county plans are coordinated and consistent with the TEMP. If a municipality elects to establish an emergency management program, it must adopt a city emergency management plan that complies with all standards and requirements applicable to county emergency management plans; (3) Assist political subdivisions in preparing and maintaining emergency management plans; (4) Periodically review political subdivision emergency management plans for consistency with the TEMP and standards and requirements adopted under this section; (5) Cooperate with the president of the United States, the heads of the armed forces, the various federal emergency management agencies, and the officers and agencies of other states in matters pertaining to emergency management in the state and the nation and incidents thereof and, in connection therewith, take any measures that it deems proper to carry into effect any request of the president and the appropriate federal officers and agencies for any emergency management action, including the direction or control of: (A) Emergency management drills, tests, or exercises of whatever nature; and (B) Warnings and signals for tests and drills, attacks, or other imminent emergencies or threats thereof and the mechanical devices to be used in connection with such warnings and signals; (6) Make recommendations to the general assembly for preparedness, prevention, and mitigation measures designed to eliminate emergencies or reduce their impact; (7) In accordance with the TEMP and program for emergency management, ascertain the requirements of the state and its political subdivisions for equipment and supplies of all kinds in the event of an emergency; plan for and either procure supplies, medicines, materials, and equipment or enter into memoranda of agreement or open purchase orders that will ensure their availability; and use and employ from time to time any of the property, services, and resources within the state in accordance with this chapter; (8) Anticipate trends and promote innovations that will enhance the emergency management system; (9) Institute statewide public awareness programs. This includes an intensive public educational campaign on emergency preparedness issues; (10) Prepare and distribute to appropriate state and local officials catalogs of federal, state, and private assistance programs; (11) Coordinate federal, state, and local emergency management activities and take all other steps, including the partial or full mobilization of emergency management forces and organizations in advance of an actual emergency, to ensure the availability of adequately trained and equipped forces of emergency management personnel before, during, and after emergencies and disasters; (12) Implement training programs to improve the ability of state and local emergency management personnel to prepare and implement emergency management plans and programs. This includes a continuous training program for agencies and individuals that will be called on to perform key roles in state and local postdisaster response and recovery efforts and for local government personnel on federal and state postdisaster response and recovery strategies and procedures; (13) Periodically review emergency operating procedures of state agencies and recommend revisions as needed to ensure consistency with the TEMP and program; (14) Make such surveys of industries, resources, and facilities within the state, both public and private, as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter; (15) Prepare, in advance whenever possible, such executive orders, proclamations, and rules for issuance by the governor as are necessary or appropriate for coping with emergencies and disasters; (16) Cooperate with the federal government and any public or private agency or entity in achieving any purpose of this chapter and in implementing programs for mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery; (17) Delegate, as necessary and appropriate, authority vested in it under this chapter and provide for the subdelegation of such authority; (18) Create, implement, administer, promulgate, amend, and rescind rules, programs, and plans needed to carry out the provisions of this chapter with due consideration for, and in cooperation with, the plans and programs of the federal government; and (19) Do other things necessary, incidental, or appropriate for the implementation of this chapter. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1; 2002, ch. 849, § 7b.] 58-2-107. Emergency management powers of the governor. — (a) (1) The governor is responsible for addressing the dangers presented to this state and its people by emergencies. In the event of an emergency beyond local control, the governor, or, in the governor’s absence, the governor’s successor as provided by law, may assume direct operational control over all or any part of the emergency management functions within this state, and such person has the power through proper process of law to carry out the provisions of this chapter. The governor is authorized to delegate such powers as the governor may deem prudent. (2) Pursuant to the authority vested in the governor under subdivision (a) (1), the governor may issue executive orders, proclamations, and rules and may amend or rescind them. Such executive orders, proclamations, and rules have the force and effect of law. (b) The governor or the governor’s designee, shall declare a state of emergency or a disaster declaration in one (1) of two (2) ways: (1) By executive order or proclamation; or (2) By the activation of the TEMP. These two (2) types of threats may be declared by the governor if the governor finds an emergency has occurred or the occurrence of threat thereof is imminent. The state of emergency shall continue until the governor finds that the threat or danger has been dealt with to the extent that the emergency conditions no longer exist and the governor terminates the state of emergency by executive order or proclamation, but no state of emergency may continue for longer than sixty (60) days unless renewed by the governor. All executive orders or proclamations issued under this section shall indicate the nature of the emergency, the area or areas threatened, and the conditions which have brought the emergency about or which make possible its termination. An executive order or proclamation shall be promptly disseminated by means calculated to bring its contents to the attention of the general public; and, unless the circumstances attendant upon the emergency prevent or impede such filing, the order or proclamation shall be filed promptly with the department of state and in the office of the chief executive officer in each county to which the order or proclamation applies. (c) An executive order or proclamation of a state of emergency shall: (1) Activate the emergency mitigation, response, and recovery aspects of the state, local, and interjurisdictional emergency management plans applicable to the political subdivision or area in question; (2) Be authority for the deployment and use of any forces to which the plan or plans apply and for the use or distribution of any supplies, equipment, and materials and facilities assembled, stockpiled, or arranged to be made available pursuant to this chapter or any other provision of law relating to emergencies; and (3) Identify whether the state of emergency is due to a minor, major, or catastrophic disaster. (d) During the continuance of a state emergency, the governor is commander in chief of the Tennessee national guard and of all other forces available for emergency duty. To the greatest extent practicable, the governor shall delegate or assign command authority by prior arrangement embodied in appropriate executive orders or rules, but nothing in this section restricts the governor’s authority to do so by orders issued at the time of the emergency. (e) In addition to any other powers conferred upon the governor by law, the governor may: (1) Suspend the provisions of any law, order, rule or regulation prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders or rules or regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any such law, order, rule, or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency; (2) Utilize all available resources of the state government and of each political subdivision of the state, as reasonably necessary to cope with the emergency; (3) Transfer the direction, personnel, or functions of state departments and agencies or units thereof for the purpose of performing or facilitating emergency services; (4) Subject to any applicable requirements for compensation, commandeer or utilize any private property, which term shall not be construed to include firearms, ammunition, or firearm or ammunition components, if the governor finds this necessary to cope with the emergency; (5) Direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the state if the governor deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other emergency mitigation, response, or recovery; (6) Prescribe routes, modes of transportation, and destinations in connection with evacuation; (7) Control ingress and egress to and from an emergency area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises therein; (8) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, explosives, or combustibles, which terms shall not be construed to include firearms, ammunition, or firearm or ammunition components; (9) Make provision for the availability and use of temporary emergency housing; (10) Take effective measures for limiting or suspending lighting devices and appliances, gas and water mains, electric power distribution, and all other utility services in the general public interest; (11) Take measures concerning the conduct of civilians, the movement and cessation of movement of pedestrian and vehicular traffic prior to, during, and subsequent to drills and actual or threatened emergencies, the calling of public meetings and gatherings, and the evacuation and reception of civilian population, as provided in the TEMP and political subdivisions thereof; and (12) Authorize the use of forces already mobilized as the result of an executive order, rule, or proclamation to assist the private citizens of the state in clean up and recovery operations during emergencies when proper permission to enter onto or into private property has been obtained from the property owner. (f) The governor shall take such action and give such direction to state and local law enforcement officers and agencies as may be reasonable and necessary for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of this chapter and with the orders and rules made pursuant thereto. (g) The governor shall employ such measures and give such directions to the department of health and department of human services, division of vocational rehabilitation, as may be reasonable and necessary for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of this chapter or with the findings or recommendations of such agency by reason of conditions arising from emergencies or threats of emergency. (h) The governor shall delegate emergency responsibilities to the officers and agencies of the state and of the political subdivisions thereof prior to an emergency or threat of an emergency, and shall utilize the services and facilities of existing officers and agencies of the state and of the political subdivisions thereof, including their personnel and other resources, as the primary emergency management forces of the state, and all such officers and agencies shall cooperate with and extend their services and facilities to the agency, as it may require. (i) The governor and the agency shall establish agencies and offices and appoint executive, professional, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter. (j) The governor shall formulate and execute plans and rules for the control of traffic in order to provide for the rapid and safe movement or evacuation over public highways and streets of people, troops, or vehicles and materials for national defense or for use in any defense industry, and may coordinate the activities of the departments or agencies of the state and the political subdivisions thereof concerned directly or indirectly with public highways and streets in a manner which will effectuate such plans. (k) The governor may delegate to the director of TEMA the authority to declare a state of emergency in order that certain commercial vehicles engaged in the distribution of electric power, the supply of fuel, or telecommunications services to residences and businesses may be considered to be participating in an emergency relief effort for the purpose of the federal hours-of-service regulations promulgated by the federal motor carrier safety administration. Pursuant to the delegation of authority granted by this subsection (k), the director of TEMA may declare a state of emergency prospectively in anticipation of an emergency. (l) (1) If the governor of Tennessee declares an emergency in response to a catastrophic or major disaster, voluntary health care providers, including hospitals and community mental health care centers, participating in the emergency management assistance compact or southern regional emergency management assistance compact are immune from liability in providing the health care to victims or evacuees of the catastrophic or major disaster, as long as the services are provided within the limits of the provider’s license, certification or authorization, unless an act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct. (2) If additional medical resources are required, the governor, by executive order, may provide limited liability protection to health care providers, including hospitals and community mental health care centers and those licensed, certified or authorized under titles 33, 63 or 68, and who render services within the limits of their license, certification or authorization to victims or evacuees of such emergencies; provided, however, that this protection may not include any act or omission caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct. (3) The duration of the protection provided by this subsection (l ) shall not exceed thirty (30) days, but may be extended by the governor by executive order for an additional thirty (30) days, if required to ensure the provision of emergency medical services in response to the catastrophic or major disaster. (m) During any state of emergency, major disaster or natural disaster, the state, a political subdivision or a public official shall not prohibit nor impose additional restrictions on the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transport, carrying, storage, display or use of firearms and ammunition or firearm and ammunition components. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1; 2004, ch. 487, § 1; 2006, ch. 560, § 1; 2007, ch. 129, § 1; 2010, ch. 885, § 1.] 58-2-108. Designation of emergency services coordinators. — (a) At the direction of the governor, the head of each executive department and independent agency shall select from within such department or agency a person to be designated as the emergency services coordinator (ESC) for the department or agency together with an alternate ESC. (b) The ESC is responsible for coordinating with TEMA and reporting to that agency on emergency preparedness issues, preparing and maintaining emergency preparedness and postdisaster response and recovery plans for their agency, maintaining rosters of personnel to assist in disaster operations, and coordinating appropriate training for agency personnel. (c) These individuals shall be responsible for ensuring that each state facility, such as a prison, office building, or university, has a disaster preparedness plan that is reviewed by the applicable local emergency management agency and approved by TEMA. (d) The head of each department or agency shall notify TEMA, in writing, of the person initially designated as the ESC for such agency and the ESC’s alternate, and of any changes in persons so designated thereafter. (e) Upon the designation of the ESC, the department or agency shall provide the necessary equipment to the ESC as prescribed by TEMA for the performance of the duties of the ESC. (f) TEMA shall, in consultation with the department of personnel, develop a mechanism to provide for a salary supplement for the appointed ESC, subject to available funding. (g) TEMA shall notify the governor of compliance with this section. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-109. Financing — Acceptance of gifts. — (a) It is the intent of the general assembly and declared to be the policy of this state that funds to prepare for and meet emergencies shall always be available. (b) It is the intent of the general assembly that the first recourse shall be to annually fund a state emergency management agency. If the governor finds that the demands placed upon these funds in coping with a particular disaster are unreasonably great, the governor may, as otherwise provided by law, make funds available by transferring and expending moneys appropriated for other purposes or out of any unappropriated surplus funds. (c) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the governor to apply for, administer, and expend any grants, gifts, or payments in aid of emergency prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, or recovery. (d) Whenever any person, firm, or corporation offers to the state or to any political subdivision thereof services, equipment, supplies, materials, or funds by way of gift, grant, loan or other agreement for the purpose of emergency management, the state, acting through the agency, or such political subdivision, acting through its governing body or a local emergency management agency, may accept such offer. Upon such acceptance, the agency or the presiding officer of the governing body of the political subdivision may authorize receipt of the gift, grant, or loan on behalf of the state or such political subdivision, subject to the terms of the offer. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-110. Emergency management powers of political subdivisions. — Safeguarding the life and property of its citizens is an innate responsibility of the governing body of each political subdivision of the state. (1) Counties. (A) In order to provide effective and orderly governmental control and coordination of emergency operations in emergencies within the scope of this chapter, each county within this state shall be within the jurisdiction of and served by TEMA. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, each local emergency management agency shall have jurisdiction over and serve an entire county. Unless part of an interjurisdictional emergency management agreement entered into pursuant to subdivision (3)(b) which is recognized by the governor by executive order or rule, each county must establish and maintain such an emergency management agency and shall develop a county emergency management plan and program that is coordinated and consistent with the TEMP and program. (B) Each county emergency management agency created and established pursuant to this chapter shall have a director who shall be appointed by the CLEO and, if required, approved by the governing body of the county. The director must meet the minimum training and education qualifications established in a job description developed by the CLEO and approved by the governing body of the county. The director’s annual salary shall be fixed by the governing body of the county. Each CLEO shall promptly inform TEMA of the appointment of the director and other personnel. Each director has direct responsibility for the organization, administration, and operation of the county emergency management agency, subject only to the direction and control of the CLEO and shall serve as liaison to TEMA and other local emergency management agencies and organizations. (C) Each county emergency management agency shall perform emergency management functions within the territorial limits of the county within which it is organized and, in addition, shall conduct such activities outside its territorial limits of the county within which it is organized as are required pursuant to this chapter and in accordance with state and county emergency management plans and mutual aid agreements. A county shall serve as liaison for and coordinate the requests of municipalities located within such county for state and federal assistance during postdisaster emergency operations. (2) Municipalities. Legally constituted municipalities are authorized and encouraged to create municipal emergency management programs. Municipal emergency management programs shall coordinate their activities with those of the county emergency management agency. Municipalities without emergency management programs shall be served by their respective county agencies. If a municipality elects to establish an emergency management program, it must comply with all laws, rules, and regulations applicable to county emergency management agencies. Each municipal emergency management plan must be consistent with and subject to the applicable county emergency management plan. In addition, each municipality must coordinate requests for state or federal emergency response assistance with its county. This requirement does not apply to requests for reimbursement under federal public disaster assistance programs. (3) Emergency management powers; political subdivisions. (A) In carrying out the provisions of this chapter, each political subdivision has the power and authority to: (i) Appropriate and expend funds; make contracts; obtain and distribute equipment, materials, and supplies for emergency management purposes; provide for the health and safety of persons and property, including emergency assistance to the victims of any emergency; and direct and coordinate the development of emergency management plans and programs in accordance with the policies and plans set by the federal and state emergency management agencies; (ii) Appoint, employ, remove, or provide, with or without compensation, coordinators, rescue teams, fire and police personnel, and other emergency management workers; (iii) Establish, as necessary, a primary and one (1) or more secondary emergency operating centers to provide continuity of government and direction and control of emergency operations; (iv) Assign and make available for duty the offices and agencies of the political subdivision, including the employees, property, or equipment thereof relating to firefighting, engineering, rescue, health, medical and related services, police, transportation, construction, and similar items or services for emergency operation purposes, as the primary emergency management forces of the political subdivision for employment within or outside the political limits of the subdivision; (v) Request state assistance or invoke emergency-related mutual-aid assistance by declaring a state of local emergency in the event of an emergency affecting only one (1) political subdivision. The duration of each state of emergency declared locally is limited to seven (7) days; it may be extended, as necessary, in seven-day increments. Further, the political subdivision has the power and authority to waive the procedures and formalities otherwise required of the political subdivision by law pertaining to: (a) Performance of public work and taking whatever prudent action is necessary to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community; (b) Entering into contracts; (c) Incurring obligations; (d) Employment of permanent and temporary workers; (e) Utilization of volunteer workers; (f) Rental of equipment; (g) Acquisition and distribution, with or without compensation, of supplies, materials, and facilities; and (h) Appropriation and expenditure of public funds; and (vi) Declare a local state of emergency in order that certain commercial vehicles engaged in the distribution of electric power, the supply of fuel, or telecommunications services to residences and businesses may be considered to be participating in an emergency relief effort for the purpose of the federal hours-of-service regulations promulgated by the federal motor carrier safety administration. The CLEO may declare a local state of emergency prospectively in anticipation of an emergency. (B) Upon the request of two (2) or more adjoining counties, or if the governor finds that two (2) or more adjoining counties would be better served by an interjurisdictional arrangement than by maintaining separate emergency management agencies and service, the governor may delineate by executive order or rule an interjurisdictional area adequate to plan for, prevent, mitigate, or respond to emergencies in such area and may direct steps to be taken as necessary, including the creation of an interjurisdictional relationship, a joint emergency plan, a provision for mutual aid, or an area organization for emergency planning and services. A finding of the governor pursuant to this subdivision (3)(B) shall be based on one (1) or more factors related to the difficulty of maintaining an efficient and effective emergency prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery system on a nonjurisdictional basis, such as: (i) Small or sparse population; (ii) Limitations on public financial resources severe enough to make maintenance of a separate emergency management agency and services unreasonably burdensome; (iii) Unusual vulnerability to emergencies as evidenced by a past history of emergencies, topographical features, drainage characteristics, emergency potential, and presence of emergency-prone facilities or operations; (iv) The interrelated character of the counties in a multicounty area; and (v) Other relevant conditions or circumstances. (4) Local emergency planning committees. (A) Each local emergency planning committee (LEPC) is authorized to assess and collect an annual fee of one hundred dollars ($100) from member facilities and industries within its emergency planning district required to submit tier II reports in accordance with federal law, 42 U.S.C. § 11001, et seq. Such fee shall be assessed and collected in the manner authorized by each such LEPC. (B) The revenue derived from such fee shall be used solely by the LEPC for conducting annual event exercises, educating the public, and printing the Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Plan. (C) The provisions of this subdivision (4) shall apply to LEPCs in any county having a population of not less than seventy-one thousand, three hundred (71,300) nor more than seventy-one thousand, four hundred (71,400) according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census, upon the adoption of a resolution by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the county legislation body of such county. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1; 2003, ch. 185, § 1; 2004, ch. 487, § 2; 2009, ch. 110, § 1.] 58-2-111. [Repealed or transferred.] 58-2-112. [Repealed.] 58-2-113. Emergency management support forces or mobile reserve unit. — (a) TEMA is authorized to provide, within or out of the state, such support from available personnel, equipment, and other resources of state agencies and the political subdivisions of the state as may be necessary to reinforce emergency management agencies in areas stricken by emergency. Such support shall be rendered with due consideration of the plans of the federal government, this state, the other states, and of the criticalness of the existing situation. Emergency management support forces shall be called to duty upon order of TEMA and shall perform functions in any part of the state or, upon the conditions specified in this section, in other states. (b) Personnel of emergency management support forces while on duty, whether inside or outside of this state, shall: (1) If they are employees of the state, have the powers, duties, rights, privileges, and immunities, and receive the compensation incidental to their employment; (2) If they are employees of a political subdivision of the state, whether serving inside or outside of the political subdivision, have the powers, duties, rights, privileges, and immunities, and receive the compensation, incidental to their employment. The compensation shall be provided by and through the providing political subdivision; and (3) If they are not employees of the state or a political subdivision thereof, they shall be entitled to the same rights and immunities as are provided by law for the employees of this state and to such compensation as may be fixed by TEMA. All personnel of emergency management support forces shall, while on duty, be subject to the operational control of the authority in charge of emergency management activities in the area in which they are serving and shall be reimbursed for all actual and necessary travel and subsistence expenses to the extent of funds available. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-114. Government equipment, services, and facilities. — In carrying out the provisions of this chapter, the governor, the director of TEMA and the executive officers, or governing bodies of the political subdivisions of the state establishing local emergency management agencies, are directed to utilize the services, equipment, supplies and facilities of existing departments, offices, and agencies of the state and of the political subdivisions thereof to the maximum extent practicable, and the officers and personnel of all such departments, offices and agencies are directed to cooperate with and extend such services and facilities to the governor or to the director and to the local emergency management agencies throughout the state upon request. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-115. Compensation. — (a) Compensation for services or for the taking or use of property shall be owed only to the extent that a claimant may not be deemed to have volunteered the claimant’s services or property without compensation and only to the extent that such taking exceeds the legal responsibility of a claimant to render such services or make such property so available. (b) Compensation owed for personal services shall be only such as may be fixed by TEMA. (c) Compensation for property shall be owed only if the property was commandeered or otherwise used in coping with an emergency and its use or destruction was ordered by the governor or a member of the emergency forces of this state. (d) Any person claiming compensation for the use, damage, loss, or destruction of property under this chapter shall file a claim therefor with the agency in the form and manner that the agency provides. (e) Unless the amount of compensation owed on account of property damaged, lost, or destroyed is agreed between the claimant and TEMA, the amount of compensation shall be calculated in the same manner as compensation due for a taking of property pursuant to the condemnation laws of this state. (f) Nothing in this section applies to or authorizes compensation: (1) For the destruction or damaging of standing timber or other property in order to provide a firebreak; (2) For damage resulting from the release of waters or the breach of impoundments in order to reduce pressure or other danger from actual or threatened flood; or (3) Beyond the extent of funds available for such compensation. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-116. Emergency management. — (a) In addition to prevention measures included in the state and local comprehensive emergency management plans, the governor shall consider, on a continuing basis, steps that could be taken to mitigate the harmful consequences of emergencies. At the governor’s direction, state agencies, including, but not limited to, those charged with responsibilities in connection with flood plain management, stream encroachment and flow regulation, weather modification, fire prevention and control, air quality, public works, land use and land use planning, and construction standards, shall make studies of emergency mitigation-related matters. The governor, from time to time, shall make such recommendations to the general assembly, local governments, and other appropriate public and private entities as may facilitate measures for mitigation of the harmful consequences of emergencies. (b) The appropriate state departments or agencies, in conjunction with TEMA, shall continually study the plans, uses and construction of structures and other facilities and identify areas which are particularly susceptible to severe land shifting, subsidence, flood, or other catastrophic occurrence, manmade or natural. The studies under this subsection shall concentrate on means of reducing or avoiding the dangers caused by these occurrences or the consequences thereof. (c) If TEMA believes, on the basis of the studies or other competent evidence, that: (1) An area is susceptible to an emergency of catastrophic proportions without adequate warning; (2) Existing building standards and land use controls in that area are inadequate and could add substantially to the magnitude of the emergency; and (3) Changes in zoning regulations, other land use regulations, or building requirements are essential in order to further the purposes of this section, the agency shall specify the essential changes to the governor. If the governor, upon review of the recommendation, finds, after public hearing that changes are essential, the governor shall so recommend to the agencies or political subdivision with jurisdiction over the area and subject matter. If no action, or insufficient action, pursuant to the governor’s recommendations is taken within the time specified by the governor, the governor shall so inform the general assembly and request legislative action appropriate to mitigate the impact of such an emergency. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-117. Lease or loan of state property; transfer of state personnel. — Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law: (1) Whenever the governor deems it to be in the public interest, the governor may: (A) Authorize any department or agency of the state to lease or lend, on such terms and conditions as it may deem necessary to promote the public welfare and protect the interests of the state, any real or personal property of the state government, to the president of the United States, the heads of the armed forces of the United States, or the various federal emergency management agencies of the United States; and (B) Enter into a contract on behalf of the state for the lease or loan to any political subdivision of the state, on such terms and conditions as the governor may deem necessary to promote the public welfare and protect the interests of this state, of any real or personal property of the state government, or the temporary transfer or employment of personnel of the state government to or by any political subdivision of the state. (2) The governing body of each political subdivision of the state may: (A) Enter into such contract or lease with this state, accept any such loan, or employ such personnel, and such political subdivision may equip, maintain, utilize, and operate any such property and employ necessary personnel therefor in accordance with the purposes for which such contract is executed; and (B) Do all things and perform any and all acts which it may deem necessary to effectuate the purpose for which such contract was entered into. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-118. Orders and rules. — (a) Upon being authorized by the governor, TEMA, or other state department or agency, the political subdivisions of the state and other agencies designated or appointed by the governor, or in the TEMP, are authorized and empowered to make, amend, and rescind such orders and rules as are necessary for emergency management purposes and to supplement the carrying out of the provisions of this chapter, but which are not inconsistent with any orders or rules adopted by an EMA or by any state agency exercising a power delegated to it by the governor or the agency. (b) In order to attain uniformity so far as practicable throughout the country in measures taken to aid emergency management, all action taken under this chapter and all orders and rules made pursuant to such sections shall be taken or made with due consideration of the orders, rules, actions, recommendations, and requests of federal authorities relevant thereto and, to the extent permitted by law, shall be consistent with such orders, rules, actions, recommendations, and requests. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-119. Enforcement. — It is the duty of every EMA established pursuant to this chapter and the officers and personnel thereof, to execute and enforce such orders, rules and regulations as may be made by the governor under authority of this chapter. Each such organization shall have available for inspection at its office all orders, rules and regulations made by the governor, or under the governor’s authority. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-120. Penalties. — In the event of an emergency declared pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, any person or representative thereof violating any order, rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to this chapter commits a Class A misdemeanor. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-121. Liability. — Any person, public or private, owning or controlling real estate or other premises who voluntarily and without compensation grants a license or privilege or otherwise permits the designation by TEMA or EMA for the use of the whole or any part of such real estate or premises for the purpose of sheltering persons during an actual, impending, mock, or practice emergency, together with such person’s successor in interest, if any, shall not be liable for: (1) The death of, or injury to, any person on or about such real estate or premises during the actual, impending, mock, or practice emergency; or (2) Loss of, or damage to, the property of such person, solely by reason or as a result of such license, privilege, designation, or use, unless the gross negligence or the willful and wanton misconduct of such person owning or controlling such real estate or premises or such person’s successor in interest is the proximate cause of such death, injury, loss, or damage occurring during such sheltering period. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-122. Liberality of construction. — The provisions of this part shall be construed liberally in order to effectuate their purposes. [Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.] 58-2-123. Radiological emergency preparedness. — (a) Purpose and intent. It is the purpose of this section to establish the means by which certain radiological emergency response plans and preparedness requirements of the United States nuclear regulatory commission and the federal emergency management agency can be developed and tested by the state, the appropriate counties, and each operator licensed by the United States nuclear regulatory commission to operate a commercial nuclear electric generating facility. It is the express intent of the general assembly that no department, commission, agency, or political subdivision of the state be considered to have assumed or be responsible for the funding of any activity or program required by this section from any sources of funds other than those specifically identified in this section. (b) Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the meanings indicated: (1) “Appropriate county” means a county which is required by the United States nuclear regulatory commission or the federal emergency management agency to be designated a risk or a host county; (2) “Facility” means a commercial nuclear electric generating reactor operated for the purpose of providing heat to produce electricity for sale to persons other than the owner of the facility; (3) “Operator” means that person who has applied for or who has been granted a license by the United States nuclear regulatory commissioner for the operation of a facility; and (4) “Plans” means the radiological emergency response plans and preparedness in support of nuclear power plants requirements, including facilities and equipment, currently contained in nuclear regulatory commission regulation 0654 (NUREG-0654) and FEMA-radiological emergency plan 1 (FEMA-REP-1) or as may be required by cognizant federal agencies in the future. (c) Emergency response plans. In addition to the other plans required by this chapter, TEMA shall develop, prepare, test, and implement as needed, in conjunction with the appropriate counties and the affected operator, such radiological emergency response plans and preparedness requirements as may be imposed by the United States nuclear regulatory commission or the federal emergency management agency as a requirement for obtaining or continuing the appropriate licenses for a commercial nuclear electric generating facility. (d) Powers and duties. In implementing the requirements of this section, the director of the agency or the director’s designated representative, shall: (1) Negotiate and enter into such additional contracts and arrangements among the agency, appropriate counties, and each operator to provide for the level of funding and the respective roles of each in the development, preparation, testing, and implementation of the plans; (2) Evaluate and determine the adequacy of the plans based upon consultations with the United States nuclear regulatory commission and other agencies, as appropriate, and upon the results of such tests as may be conducted;
  52. Butch,
    In reading TCS 5-17-101 and 5-17-102, the State Attorney General just last year rendered an opinion that neither cities nor counties are held by any statute of general applicability legally requiring the above to provide fire service OR ems.

  53. Butch

    Jamie,

    For what it is worth, I don’t disagree with the Attorney General’s opinion. The county nor the city are “Required” to provide Fire Protection or Emergency Medical Services per se. However, using a reasonable person theory when Reading TCA 58-2-101 through 58-2-124, one would have to surmise that the county is in fact required to possess, or have a contract to take possession of, the required equipment necessary and to have sufficient numbers of trained personnel readily available to render aid in the case of Minor, Major and/or catastrophic disaster.

    Further, because the county elected to establish a county-wide fire protection service, they at the same time elected to abide by the laws that authorized it, which are 5-17-101 through 5-17-108. Read properly, the onus is on the county to provide fire protection services to “all of the county”. That means in the cities as well.

    Remember, there are, I believe, and you are welcome to correct me if I am wrong, very few counties in this state that operate a county-wide fire protection service. There are more and more moving in that direction, however, I don’t think many exist at this time or at the time of the Attorney General’s opinion.

    Under the laws regarding the Emergency Management agencies it says as a part of the duties of the EMA is to “respond” to emergencies. Jamie, I respect your opinion and knowledge, so tell me, is there any way to respond to a disaster without personnel and equipment?

    The laws surrounding EMA’s authorize the counties to procure equipment, hire personnel, train personnel, and do most anything necessary and proper in order to be capable of fulfilling their obligations under Title 58, Chapter 2 of TCA.

    So, if they are required to “respond” to a disaster, and if they are authorized to appropriate funds and purchase equipment and hire and train personnel, a reasonable person would naturally assume that the legislative intent was that they “must ensure that they are CAPABLE of properly and adequately responding to a disaster”. This isn’t saying, “Fire”, this is saying “Disaster”.

    Here is the crux of the issue, if the county has a requirement, a mandate, a duty, an obligation, to ensure that it is “Capable” of responding to a minor, major, or catastrophic disaster, which would require the same equipment and personnel necessary to respond to a fire or a medical emergency, and if the county has established a county-wide fire department, which also requires that they provide all of the services that are currently tasked to WEMA, then why would we as a city spend several millions of dollars every year for the foreseeable future to duplicate what the county is required to spend anyway? It just doesn’t make sense.

    The more appropriate question to ask the attorney general would be something more along the lines of the following:

    “To what extent must a county procure equipment, hire personnel, and provide training in order to be considered in compliance with the laws associated with Emergency Management Agencies, and, if a county has elected to establish a county-wide fire department, under the laws that authorize the establishment of a County-wide Fire department, to what extent is the county responsible for providing the protections and services mentioned in those laws and does the county government then have a legal obligation to provide those service inside incorporated cities within that county?”

    I believe you would have a completely different answer then.

    You see, the State’s Attorney General is answering the question that was asked of him. He is right. The county didn’t have to elect to establish a county-wide fire department, it elected to do that on its own accord. Until they elected to establish the county-wide fire department there was no obligation to provide any of the services mentioned in the laws surrounding the establishment and operation of a county-wide fire department. However, upon election to establish a county-wide fire department the county obligated itself to comply with 5-17-101 through 5-17-108, which requires then that they do provide those services throughout the county. They made themselves responsible for fire suppression and all of the duties that fall under those statutes. It isn’t state law that makes them responsible, it is their election to establish a county-wide fire department that makes them responsible. Regardless, even if they didn’t elect to establish the county-wide fire department, I still believe that they would be legally obligated to at least ensure that the equipment and trained staffing to “Respond” to a disaster were available in this county.

    All this is very complex and difficult. Here is what isn’t hard to understand and it is the thing that is starting to really chap me, “this county needs to enhance its emergency services before someone needlessly is harmed or killed or is forced to suffer needlessly and there is a lot of finger pointing and not a lot of action to rectify that shortfall in protection”.

    We have to play “Games” over funding when we live in one of the most affluent communities in the entire state. If we can’t provide safety to the citizens then who can?

    I am far from an expert on this subject, however, I have been listening to the politicians and I come away believing that many of them simply don’t understand or haven’t read the laws surrounding this issue.

    Long answer, I know, but you know how I am. I want to be thorough and complete in my statements as much as possible. This issue is far too important not to do the due diligence and come to the proper conclusion to this saga.

  54. Shawn Donovan

    Thanks for all the extensive research on the funding mechanism to get adequate emergency services.

    As we have said all along that it is a combination of trying to educate the elected officials on the need for more emergency services and finding a way to fund it. I think a lot of the focus has been on funding to pay for it, but the elected officials honestly don’t have enough “hands on knowledge” of what it takes to actually do the job of a WEMA Firefighter. One method that has been used around the country to show this side of the house is to hold a Fire Operations Field Day for elected officials or Citizen Fire Academies. What both of these practical educational day or programs do is to get the elected official in “our” shoes for a day and give them a first hand experience on doing some of the skills that is required during house fires, car accidents, and even medical calls. I think if we gave 4 elected officials turnout gear and gave them a task list of what is required during house fire it might give them a better idea of the urgency here. To give these officials a even more realistic picture of what my brother and sister WEMA Firefighters face…. we could have them start by doing the tasks that is required at a fire, then midstream tell them to get the gear off and get in a vehicle drive 10 minutes and have them demonstrate a realistic CPR scenario with bystanders and all…

  55. Butch

    Shawn, I don’t think that they truly get the point that when you have to respond to a fire you need four people minimum just for the fire engine so that you can search for victims inside a structure. They don’t seem to understand that if there is a fire in one place at the same time that there is an accident in another place that you guys have to choose either to search the structure or go to the scene of the accident, but that you can’t do both when all you have is four people.

    I think I am going to start lobbying our city leaders to provide funding for two more fire fighters/EMS workers per shift for the purpose of augmenting WEMA station 3 (provided the county enters into an agreement not to pull any equipment or personnel from station 3 if the county does this) until we can get this all hashed out. Wish me luck. This may be the wrong way to fund it, but I choose safety over being right. It probably wouldn’t take more than $200,000 to $300,000 per year to cover two people per shift around the clock, would it? We can buy off on one year at the rate of $200,000 to $300,000, can’t we? During that year we can work to settle this issue. I think this is the responsible thing to do, don’t you?
    Two more people per shift would allow you to have two people on ambulance and four people on the engine, which I believe would provide significant relief to station 3 and it would enable fire fighter to search and extract victims of fire and smoke and still allow for two people on ambulance either at the scene of fire or elsewhere in the city. This wouldn’t be perfect, but it is light-years ahead of where we are and it provides an olive branch to the other governments in this county while they hash this out.
    I would like to hear the county admit that under a county-wide fire department they have the responsibility for fire protection, not the cities, before we spend that money, but in the absence of that admission we should do this anyway.

    I love the idea of the Citizen Fire Academies and Fire Operations Field Days.
    We could conduct fundraisers to off-set the costs of the extra fire fighters as well.
    There is no doubt we need more stations and equipment, but we can take a giant step forward by increasing the number of personnel at the existing station to near acceptable numbers. In fact, before we even think about building another building we should fully staff the existing station.

  56. Shawn Donovan

    Butch,

    With regards to your county-wide fire protection question. What you normally will see is a few different variations there. If you look at Rutherford County, they do have a Rutherford County Fire Department but it covers almost all unincorporated areas and the incorporated areas are covered by city departments (Smyrna, Murfreesboro, etc). Obviously Nashville Fire Department covers all of Davidson County since they are Metro. Williamson County has the Williamson County Rescue Squad that covers a lot of area within the county, but they also have a total of 9 different fire departments within the county limits (Franklin and Brentwood being all paid, then the remainder mostly volunteer).

    Honestly what you will see more then anything is the EMS side of the house covered by the counties with fire/rescue/hazmat covered by the cities or unincorporated geographic areas. Like I’ve said on numerous occasions, that the cities take care of the fire/rescue/hazmat because they can normally utilize local property taxes to pay for the increased amount of coverage that is required to make is safer for personnel. I don’t think you will find any county is Middle TN or TN that doesn’t operate a county EMS agency (Rutherford, Sumner, Cheathem, Williamson, etc all operate a county based EMS agency)

    EMA again is normally a very small staff the county utilizes only on large scale incidents in most cases. In the cases they are utilized its mostly logistical.

  57. Old Blevins

    Shawn, you may have hit on a way to get rid of Linda elam with the Citizen Fire Academies. Since her excuse to loiter around city hall is the fire coverage issue she ‘has to solve’ after six years of doing nothing, getting her to suit up and climb a few ladders might be just the trick. I’ll bring a camera.

    Not intending to make light of a serious issue, just reaffirming your point that the politicians don’t understand, and the worst kind of politician will use serious issues like fire protection to suit their needs rather than actually taking relevant action.

  58. Butch

    Shawn,

    I understand that the EMA doesn’t normally have a large staff or lots of equipment, but is that because they are doing thing “right”, or is it because they are doing things “incorrectly”?

    Here is the point. Governments of this County, this state, and this nation need to start looking to consolidate and unify as much as is possible so as to reduce waste. They have a fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards of our money, our money, our money, our money (sorry, I get stuck on those words).

    I am not just hung up on the waste of money, though, I am also hung up on the loss of opportunity that comes with that wasted money. Inefficiencies cause money to vaporize. It just disappears. However, money properly leveraged in an efficient system produces ongoing savings and increased opportunities. By leveraging money through the unification of services we can have more personnel, not less, more stations, not less, and more equipment, not less. For the same amount of money we are currently spending in this county (collectively) on EMS, we could have a lot more protection than what we currently have, however, Mt. Juliet establishing its own fire department would actually have a curtailing effect in total protection in this county.

    Shawn. Put everything you know about fire protection and everything you feel about fire protection on the shelf for a moment. I know that is going to be near impossible for you to do because you are passionate about it and you have a mindset that is steeped in how things are currently done. I understand and appreciate that, but just humor me for a moment and take off the fire fighter/Emergency Medical Responder uniform for a minute and just wear your citizen clothing and look at this from a “Citizen” perspective. I hope you don’t feel I am being condescending because that isn’t my intention at all. I respect what you do, you should know that, otherwise I wouldn’t be in this battle with you. I fully understand how hard paradigms are to shatter and we all live under them. I know you have the paradigm of a fire fighter and I am glad for that. It means when you show up at a home your whole focus is on putting the fire out of saving the person in distress. However, this is a political battle we are in, not a fire or a medical emergency, so you have to sometimes put on your civilian clothing in order to gain ground. That’s all I am saying.

    Now that you are dressed like me (Right now I am in my P.J.s.. Shawn, that is about as close as you and I will ever come to having a Pajama Party together.) Let’s look at how things “Should” be. Wait, before we do that, let me ask you to change back to your fire fighter uniform for just one minute. I know, I should have done this before I asked you to change cloths, but I forgot. Forgive me. Now that you are back into your fighter fighter garb, let me ask you a question. If I could show you a way that every person all across this state could have Emergency Services that are enhanced beyond what they currently have, without even having to spend one extra penny to obtain and acquire that additional protection, and all you had to do was wave a magic wand, would you wave it? Of course you would. Now, chop chop, back into your pajamas.

    So here we are, two guys, sitting around in our pajamas, pontificating on what could be and not what is, and how we can protect more citizens or provide more protection to those who are already protected. We sit and we think, and we sit and we think some more. We lean forward, and then we lean back in our chairs. We scratch our heads, and then, being guys, we scratch other places. Then, in a eureka moment, one of us has a epiphany. We look at each other in excitement and the one who had the idea blurts out, “Unified Services!” “We could unify all services throughout this entire state!” “Rather than having hundreds or even thousands of different fire departments throughout this state, we could have one great big unified fire department that handles everything!” “The savings from that would help provide additional coverage to those who already have coverage and it would help us provide coverage to those who don’t currently have it!” “The collective buying power would give us the ability to cut costs on training, equipment, and other infrastructure!” “Because we have one major organization covering everything we would have much better command and control and enhanced organization!” “There would be faster response times and people would suffer less loss and there would be less pain and suffering and less death. There would be reduced strain on our hospitals because there would be fewer injuries due to quicker response times. There would be less loss of property due to the faster response times, so our insurance rates would go down.” “Wait a cotton pickin minute, we would also be able to mitigate damages and reduce harm to civilians in the event of a minor, major, or catastrophic disaster as well!” “Let’s see, we cut down on waste, increase services, and increase protection, and all the while we reduce pain, loss and suffering!” You would look at me and say, “what do you think, Butch”. I would just look at you with amazement and say, “Shawn, you are a frick’n genius. Its like you are gifted.”

    Shawn, I think the game has changed. I think on 9/11 the game changed in this country forever. The bad guys are still out there, they still want to cause us massive harm, and that will never go away. The radical muslims in this world want to convert us or kill us. They have said so, so I am not imagining it. They want to cause us as much harm as possible, and if and when they can they will. They want sensational devastation. Are we prepared? You know the answer to that is a resounding, “no”.

    Shawn, we have seen what damage and devastation can occur from natural disasters. Have natural disasters stopped? No, they haven’t stopped. They may in fact be on the rise. There doesn’t seem to be a doubt that we are experiencing climate change. (I am not a climate change nut) The climate has been changing since God made the earth, it will continue to change. It could be that we are in a period of time in the existence of earth during which we have increased disasters. (By the way, natural disasters are only considered to be “disasters” in the minds of man. The earth isn’t experiencing a disaster, we are. The earth is doing what it was designed to do, we just find ourselves in its way sometimes. It’s kinda like standing on the railroad tracks and waiting for a train to come. It’s coming sometime, and if you stand there long enough you will be hit by a train. Why? BECAUSE YOU ARE STANDING ON TRAIN TRACKS!)

    We are in an area where there are disasters, usually caused by tornados, however, other disasters, natural disasters, occur also. We, as citizens of the cities in this state, of the counties of this state, and of the state in general, have a duty, and obligation, and a responsibility to ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our fellow citizens to ensure that we have an overarching protection system that will enable us to respond and recover from most any probable or relatively possible disaster or emergency. The most efficient way to do that is through the development of unified services throughout the state and through mutual aid agreements and mandates between unified services. Then we can think globally and act locally. Ummmm, that sounds goooood, “Think globally, act locally”. Doesn’t that have a ring to it? Think globally, act locally. I think that was what the legislature had envisioned when they passed the laws regarding Emergency Management Agencies. They want us to think globally, but act locally.

    What does that have to do with anything? It means we have to adopt a new way of thinking, Shawn. We have to think, “how can we best develop our Emergency Services in Wilson County?” Is it best that we have a county fire department, a lebanon fire department, a watertown fire department, a statesville fire department, and perhaps even other volunteer fire departments, or would it be best for us to have just one, unified, and cohesive fire department that responds to all emergencies in this county? We have to think, “do we want to follow the path of all of the other cities and counties in this state, who have inefficient systems and that waste taxpayer money, or do we want to be pioneers and develop the standards by which all other counties and cities in this state measure themselves?” I, personally, vote for the second, Shawn. I don’t want status quo. I don’t want to settle for what we can “afford” when it comes to safety. I don’t accept that we have to continue to live with inadequate services. I don’t accept that you guys have to put yourselves in harms way needlessly because some politicians can’t get their heads out of their butts and provide the necessary personnel, training, and equipment that you need in order to safely do your jobs. I am prepared to adopt a new philosophy that says, “we will find a way to keep our citizens safe and secure to the best of our ability and if we don’t have the money, we will find the money or we will creatively find solutions that don’t require money.” I embrace that philosophy, Shawn, because I truly and honestly believe that is the best philosophy and it is the philosophy that will keep you and I and our families and friends alive and unharmed better than any other philosophy.
    I don’t want to do what the others are doing because I don’t like the results I am seeing. I want to do something new, something exciting, something remarkable. Don’t you? I want to blaze a trail, Shawn. I want to build a model for protection that others marvel at, Shawn, and I want to hear them say, “I want to be just like them”, don’t you? Money? We will get the money. Willingness? Now that is some of the rarest stuff on earth. Find a way to get the politicians in this county to be “Willing” to find better solutions and you will have people looking on in amazement and anticipation, Shawn.

    Sometimes, Shawn, we have to back away from the problem in order to see the solution. I don’t wear your uniform. I don’t see the pain and the suffering. I don’t see the damage and loss. It is easy for me to back away from the problem. I can fully understand why it is near impossible for you to back away, because you deal with it day in and day out and you have to look at it up close and personal. From my vantage point, I can envision thousands of Shawns across this state, doing what you do every day, and I can understand that, if it weren’t for stubborn politicians, we could reduce the pain, loss and suffering that goes on, not just in this city, not just in this county, but throughout and across this entire state.

    Now, if you would be so kind as to put your uniform back on. BTW, nice Sponge Bob/Square pants jamies.

  59. Butch

    This was just sent to the city commissioners, the city manager, the city attorney, The Mt. Juliet News and The Mt. Juliet Chronicle.

    Greetings;

    I am not sure that you all caught it last night, but the County Mayor presented to you a calculation regarding how much money the City of Mt. Juliet contributes to fire protection. His calculations were based on how much we contribute in property taxes and how much of those property taxes are appropriated toward fire protection. The problem with his calculations is that they are based on “property taxes”. If property taxes are going to be used to pay for fire protection the county has to, by law, establish fire tax districts. This is what I have been saying has been the case all along and yet nobody seems to be ceasing on this disclosure on the part of the County Mayor as of yet.

    The city has got a great case to force the enactment of fire taxes and the development of fire tax districts just based on that calculation alone, however, you have an even stronger case to force the establishment of fire taxes and fire tax districts.

    The county mayor said that the county isn’t required to provide fire protection. That would be the case had the county not established a county-wide fire department. However, now that there is a county-wide fire department there is an obligation to provide fire protection. They caused themselves to have to provide fire protection when they elected to establish the county-wide fire department.

    If you would just read the laws regarding a County-wide fire department I believe you would see that the county is required under a county-wide fire department to provide just about all services now being attributed to WEMA. They (the county) seem to want to segregate fire suppression and rescue from the rest of WEMA’s services, however, I don’t think that is permissible under a county-wide fire department as those other services are specifically tasked to the county-wide fire department under TCA 5-17-101 through 5-17-108.

    If you find that I am correct, and that all of WEMA’s services, with the possible exception of Special teams, fall under the aegis of the county-wide fire department, then the totality of the expenses of WEMA would fall under the County-wide Fire department with the exception, perhaps, of a portion of the costs of John Jewel’s Salary, which could be apportioned to WEMA as that position is required under TCA 58-2-101 through 58-2-124.

    If all of WEMA’s expenses fall under the county-wide fire department there is no possible way that the county could pay for the costs of operation of The county-wide fire department using only already shared revenues. The moment that they dip into property taxes, which they surely are doing presently and which they most assuredly would have to do if they properly apportioned the costs of the county-wide fire department, they have to establish fire taxes and fire tax districts. The use of property taxes, in my opinion, is proof positive that the county is actually using our money to provide fire protection to the rest of the county. This is an issue that you must address as our city leaders. We are your constituents and we deserve your protection from abuse of taxing power by the county.

    If you do not address this issue head-on and rectify it any deals, agreements, arrangements and/or contracts you enter into will be unwound in a court of law. This is clearly and unequivocally an example of a taxing authority (the county) illegally and abusively using the taxes that it collects from us in contravention to state law.

    I have now sat through two special meetings of our City Commission where you have largely sat and listened to the County Mayor deliver to you information without much of any questioning of his data on your part as a commission. I believe you are being led down a path with this discourse. The County Mayor may be a fine man who has no hidden agenda, he may be an upright person, he may have all good intentions, but his positions and opinions are flawed at best.

    The solution to fire protection is a matter in which you have no responsibility. That is, you have no responsibility in this matter unless you vote to have that responsibility. I believe you have the right to inject yourselves (And, consequently, Us) into this issue on a city level, however, if you stay out of this issue it becomes an issue between the citizens of this city and the county. All you have to do is say, “We are not going to get into the business of fire protection or emergency services, we intend to allow you to live up to the responsibilities you took on when you elected to establish a county-wide fire protection service. Further discourse on this subject must be between the county and the citizens of Mt. Juliet.” That extracts the city from the debate and discourse and puts us, the citizens, in the middle of the issue, where we belong as this isn’t between the city and us, it is between the county and us.

    The fact that the county is illegally using our tax dollars may very well be a matter for the city, or it may be a matter for the courts. Since each of you live in this city you have a vested interest in fixing this inequity as well. Before we do anything else we need to settle this issue of the county taking our tax dollars and using them elsewhere. Again, Mayor Hutto put the proof that the county is illegally funding the county-wide fire department in your hands last night. What, if anything, are you prepared to do about it?

  60. Southsider

    Mayor Elam should offer to lower road-building standards for developers willing to donate money for a ladder truck.
    Oh wait, she has already tried that once..

  61. Butch,
    Sorry it took so long to get back with you. Concerning the issue of being legally bound to provide emergency services was put to me by the mayor. He is looking for some drive to get both WEMA enhanced and some help from MJ with precedence for other areas to follow as they grow. Also, the fact that there does not exist funds for personnel and payroll. (a money now for people now program) or (immediate budget increase)

  62. Butch

    Jamie,

    No money is not an acceptable excuse. The county has the ability to create a fire tax to raise the money necessary to provide Emergency Services as directed under the laws that authorize the establishment of a County-wide Fire Department. The county elected to establish a county-wide fire department, which means that they have already decided, by default, to raise the tax revenues necessary to provide the services connected with the county-wide fire department.

    Jamie,
    The city has zero responsibility in this issue. They “may” become involved if they so desire, but there is no responsibility on the city’s part to inject itself in this issue. As far as “precedence”, that is a pipe dream and a smoke screen. We are not responsible for setting precedence for the county, the county needs to man-up and live up to its responsibilities.

    No more passing the buck, no more excuses, no more smoke screens, no more diversions. It is time for decisive and appropriate action. In fact, it is time for massive action on the part of the county.

    Jamie, they cannot enhance WEMA because they will necessarily force themselves into a situation where they have to enact fire tax districts, which works for us, but doesn’t work for the county because they are taking money from us now for the purpose of providing protection for others elsewhere in the county. Increasing WEMA will only accelerate the process of shifting to fire tax districts.

    Jamie, they are finally on the ropes on this issue. Finally, there is enough momentum and public involvement, along with media coverage, and enough situational discomfort in Lebanon, to push this issue over the edge and establish, once and for all, a fair and equitable resolution to the shortfall of fire protection in this county. The county has finally lost this issue, now it is time to bring a durable, appropriate plan of service in this county.

    Jamie, have you read the laws regarding the County-wide fire department? Do you see that it includes just about every aspect of what is now being touted as being a part of “WEMA”? Do you understand that they cannot ethically, morally, or even legally segregate fire suppression and rescue from the other tasks of WEMA in terms of funding accountability? I know it is hard to see until you are looking for it, but I am asking that you guys investigate what I am telling you and see for yourselves that the county-wide fire department is about much more than just fire suppression.

    Once people finally see the truth in all of this they will have no recourse, if they are being fair and honest, but to say that we need fire tax districts.

    The mentality that has been used to justify the lack of provision in this city is no longer being accepted. Their model is “ABUSIVE” to those of us who live in this city. The concept that we must provide fire protection to all of Wilson county before we can enhance the coverage in the Mt Juliet area, including Lakewood, is a flawed concept. There may be a few thousand people in this county who have, for all intents and purposes, no fire protection, however, the protection that is provided in this area is provided on such a low level that it is essentially the same as tens of thousands of people having even less than zero. Those areas that are not covered at all are located in an area where they are outside the five mile range, however, they are in an area where the existing fire stations can respond in fifteen to twenty-five minutes. We are in an area where things are so drastic that, in some cases, there simply isn’t anyone left to respond. That, in my opinion, is less than zero. I want you to understand that I am not faulting you or saying anything at all about the providers, you guys are doing the best you can. There simply isn’t enough of you in this area of the county.

    There is no acceptable solution that doesn’t start with the county acknowledging and accepting that this is their issue.

  63. Butch

    Dick Kasnick, if you are reading these posts, did you figure out the total of the adequate facilities taxes that this city has paid to the county over the past 12 years?

  64. Can fire tax district funds be used for personnel, payroll, and additional enhancements of ems?

  65. Butch Huber

    Jamie, I don’t have the ability to use different fonts or colors to illustrate for you, so you will have to read through just about all of this post in order for you to become comfortable with what I am about to point out to you.

    5-17-102. Powers and duties. —

    (a) With the specific exceptions relating to metropolitan governments provided for in this section, the county-wide fire department is empowered to do all things necessary to provide coordinated fire protection to all areas of the county, including, but not limited to:

    (Jamie, notice where it says, “the county-wide fire department is empowered to do all things necessary to provide coordinated fire protection to ALL OF THE COUNTY, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO: ?” The words “ALL THINGS NECESSARY” give the county broad authority. However, their authority isn’t limited to the things that follow. Let’s read on.)

    (1) Sue and be sued;

    (Jamie: The county-wide fire department can be sued and it can sue. I am not sure exactly how all that would happen, but they have the authority to do it.)

    (2) Take or acquire real or personal property of every kind, or any interest therein, within the county, by grant, purchase, gift, devise or lease, and hold, manage, occupy, dispose of, convey and encumber the same and create a leasehold interest in the same for the benefit of the county;

    (3) Exercise the right of eminent domain, but only with the consent of the county legislative body or other governing body;

    (4) Establish, equip, operate and maintain a county-wide fire department and establish and enforce regulations including, but not limited to, those for the administration, operation and maintenance thereof;

    (This is saying that it can equip, operate and maintain a county-wide fire department. You will see later on that this includes EMS, Hazardous Material Response, rescue, emergency medical service, etc.)

    (5) Appoint and employ necessary employees and define their qualifications, duties and responsibilities, and provide for payment in reasonable sums for such duties;

    (This is authorizing them to hire personnel to operate the county-wide fire department. Again, you will see in just a moment that the county-wide fire department includes Hazardous Material Response, EMS, Disaster Management, etc.)

    (6) Employ counsel;

    (7) Enter into and perform all necessary contracts, including, but not limited to:

    (A) Contracts for the supply of water where necessary for fire protection;

    (Jamie; the county-wide fire department can pay for the development of a system that provides water for fire suppression.)

    (B) Contract to have existing fire departments and others provide fire protection services in any area of the county, including, but not limited to:

    (Jamie; this authorizes the county-wide fire department to contract with lebanon to have them provide their own fire protection if that is what they want to do.)

    (i) Contracts with incorporated towns and utility districts to provide such service within or without their corporate limits;

    (Jamie, if a city has a fire department, it can contract with the county, not only to provide its own fire suppression and other services, it can also contract with the county to provide the services now provided under the umbrella of “WEMA” to those areas outside the city.”)

    (ii) Contracts to provide fire protection services for any city, town, district, or any part thereof within the county;

    (Jamie: the county has to provide fire protection or ensure that it is provided. The city can contract with the county for the county to provide the service. Remember, the county is required to provide the service, but that doesn’t mean that the county has to pay for the service. There are various ways that the county can fund the provision of fire suppression inside cities.)

    (C) Contracts to provide and be provided training and maintenance;
    (Jamie, this allows the county to pay for training and maintenance. What training and maintenance? Any and all necessary and appropriate training needed to ensure that the county is “Capable” of providing services. What services? Any services authorized in the sections that follow, however, you can rest assured that just about every service WEMA will have to respond with is included under the aegis of the “County-wide fire department” as you will see in a moment.”

    (D) Contracts to provide and be provided all special service functions, such as arson investigation, inspection, and emergency ambulance and rescue services;

    (Jamie, there it is, right there, did you see it? Read (D) above again. It says, “Contracts to provide and be provided all, Jamie, say “ALL” special service functions, such as arson investigation, inspection, and emergency ambulance and rescue services, AND EMERGENCY AMBULANCE AND RESCUE SERVICES!” And there you have it!”

    (8) Provide and maintain all special service functions necessary for the prevention of fires, including the investigation of the cause of fires and the enforcement of regulations to prevent harmful fires and smoke;

    (Jamie, you knew already that the county-wide fire department is for dealing with fires, but you are now seeing that it is for much, much more than just fires.)

    (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    (JAMIE, here it is again! Read (9) above again: PROVIDE AND MAINTAIN AN EMERGENCY AMBULANCE, FIRST AID AND RESCUE SERVICE! The ambulance and rescue functions belong under the aegis of the county-wide fire department, Jamie, not under WEMA. Jamie, this is a game changer in this county. The reason this is a game changer is because those functions that are now being attributed to WEMA are actually supposed to be apportioned to the county-wide fire department, which means the county is a heap of trouble. They can’t possibly fund the functions of the County-wide Fire department using only already shared revenues because they don’t have enough already shared revenues to cover those kinds of costs. This means that fire taxes are mandatory for the county!)

    (10) Make regulations, in order to prevent harmful fires and smoke, that shall have the force of law when approved by the county legislative body or other governing body;

    (11) Give aid anywhere in the county in the event of fire, flood or other disaster;

    (12) Assist local and volunteer fire departments whenever necessary. Such assistance includes, but is not limited to, financial aid and shall be upon such terms as agreed to by both parties;

    (13) Provide training and maintenance services for the benefit of any fire department;

    (14) Set up a central communications network connecting all fire and emergency units in the county;

    (JAMIE, this is another biggie. The county-wide fire department has to have a central communications network connecting all fire and emergency units in the county. Say, “ALL” again. This means every fire department and emergency unit of any type must be connected. I say, “any type” because none were excluded.)

    (15) Train, equip, maintain, and provide for the payment of volunteers at the discretion of the county-wide fire department;

    (16) Recommend the boundaries of fire tax district or districts to the county legislative body or other governing body, in those counties that have chosen to fund fire departments through fire tax districts, in order to have the fire taxes more nearly reflect the cost of services to be rendered in each area of the county, and recommend the amount to be spent in each such district;

    (17) Make reasonable charges for any services rendered that are not included in the fire tax of the district; and

    (18) With the approval of the county legislative body or other governing body, make written agreements for allocation and conveyance of any or all public functions, rights, duties, property, assets and liabilities of the county-wide fire department to any annexing municipality that justice or reason may require in the circumstances.

    (b) In those counties that now have or may hereafter have a metropolitan form of government, the powers described in subdivisions (a)(1)-(3), (5), (6) and (9) shall not be vested in the county-wide fire department, but shall be vested in the metropolitan government, to be exercised in the manner provided by its charter.

    [Acts 1965, ch. 138, § 2; 1968, ch. 611, §§ 2, 3; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 7, 36; T.C.A., § 5-1702; Acts 1999, ch. 125, § 2.]

    Jamie, have I answered your question? If not, let me do it with just one word…..”YES”!

  66. Butch Huber

    You know, I just thought about it. We have been at this together for the better part of three years. I hope when we get through and we win this deal you fire fighters will invite me down to station 3 for a cook-out or something. It would be nice to get to know you guys better seeing as we have been fighting the same fight, albeit from different angles at times, for such a long time.

    Guys, we are on the home stretch. We are going to bring this baby home. It is all over but the shouting now. The county has tipped its hand and all they have is a bluff-hand. We are sitting with a full-house.

  67. Butch Huber

    To anyone who lives inside the city limits of Mt. Juliet who is reading this post, if you want a greatly enhanced fire service in Mt. Juliet, if you want greatly enhanced emergency medical service in Mt. Juliet, if you want greatly enhanced rescue service in Mt. Juliet, if you want better hazardous material response capabilities in Mt. Juliet, if you would like to have better disaster management capabilities in Mt. Juliet, if you would like to have better water rescue services in Mt. Juliet, and if you would like to have greatly enhanced communications in Mt. Juliet, you will get on the phone can call your city commissioners and tell them that you wish for them to push the issue for the establishment of fire tax districts to the limit.

    Make no mistake, you and your families, as well as your neighbors and friends, who live in this city, are getting considerably less than what they are paying for in terms of county services. We essentially get nothing from the county except for Schools. Most of those schools, I believe, also are there to indoctrinate the children of the county just as much as they are there to indoctrinate the children of this city, so at best that is a shared cost situation.

  68. Butch Huber

    The County Mayor came to Mt. Juliet last week and presented to the commission a calculation of the contribution that Mt. Juliet makes toward the County-wide Fire Department’s costs to provide those of us in this city with fire protection and rescue services.

    For some strange reason, they included the costs for “Rescue” in the calculation. Now, the county is still under the misperception that we are only dealing with “Fire suppression” in this discourse, because the county provides rescue to Lebanon. However, in this calculation they included “rescue”.

    When you are adding in “Rescue” to this equation it drastically slants the result in toward the county. Truth is, calls for fire in 2008, the latest data I could find, amounted to only 5.7% of all calls made to WEMA/the county wide fire department. However, if you added in “Rescue”, the percentage all of a sudden becomes 29.25%.

    Why would they provide Lebanon with rescue, but want to apportion the cost of “Rescue” to Mt. Juliet? Doesn’t this seem strange to you?

    WEMA’s Budget is $7,167,360. Five and seven tenths percent of WEMA’s budget is $408,539.52. According to the County Website, there are 583.27 square miles in this county. Since the county has so wanted to make this a geographic debate, meaning they want to provide all citizens with the same coverage on a geographic calculation rather than on an individual basis, we have to spread the $408,539.52 across all 583.27 square miles that make up this county. When you spread things that way, the costs of providing us with “Fire suppression” comes to…..wait for it…..wait….hold….hold…steady….

    $14,008.59 per year for the entire city of Mt. Juliet. That is what they are concerned about? Really? Could this possibly, and I know this is going to be hard for you to believe, but could it possibly be that this is all about Mt. Juliet not having a property tax set above Zero and how embarrassing that is to everyone else in this county? Embarrassing because they can’t do it, but we can?

    The county mayor said that we are paying $216,000 toward fire suppression and rescue services in this city. He also said that fire suppression and rescue services amount to 25% of the budget of WEMA. (I guess the costs have come down since 2008. Let’s take his figure and see what it adds up to when calculated on the geographic model they so cherish at the county.

    WEMA’s budget again is $7,167,360. Twenty-five percent of that equals $1,791,840. Now, remember, there are 583.27 square miles in this county, so you have to divide the $1,791,840 by 583.27 square miles. There, done, that comes to $3,072.05925 (went five places right of the decimal so that you know that I am trying to be accurate). There are 20 square miles inside Mt. Juliet, so you have to multiply the $3,072.05925 by 20 square miles. There, done, that comes to $61,441.184. Someone please help me out, if we are paying the county $216,000 for fire and rescue and, if you add up the cost of fire and rescue services as the county provides services, our costs for the provision of those services comes to $61,441.184, how are we not getting a refund of approximately $155,000? The County Mayor is saying that it costs more to provide us services than we are paying, however, the math, when calculated the way that they provide services, proves quite the contrary.

    Now, lets take a look at what it would cost for us to pay for all of the services that WEMA provides to this city and what we contribute, using Mayor Hutto’s Calculations, to WEMA.

    Remember, that figure of $216,000? That represented 25% of what we actually contribute to WEMA. So, to calculate the entire contribution we make to WEMA, we must multiply the $216,000 by 4. There, done, that comes to $864,000. That is what the mayor is saying that we citizens of this city contribute toward the costs of WEMA.

    WEMA’s budget again is $7,167,360. Divide that amount by 583.59 square miles and you come to a figure of $12,281.50 (rounded up) per square mile. Now, remember, it is the county that wants to do things “geographically”, not the city. We recognize that the costs and need for emergency services are greater per square mile in Mt. Juliet than they are in the rural areas, but we also recognize that we pay a tremendously higher amount of money to the county per square mile than they do in the rural areas also, but the county ignores that last fact so we must ignore it also.

    According to my calculations, we cost the county $245,630 per year to provide us with all of the services that WEMA provides. (us meaning those of us who live inside Mt. Juliet). We are paying $864,000 and receiving $245,630 worth of services. Doesn’t that seem wrong to you? Why aren’t we getting a refund? Folks, the reality is actually much worse. We pay significantly more than the $864,000 that I mentioned herein. There are many other forms of taxes and fees that we pay to the county that help contribute to the overall costs of WEMA operations that aren’t calculated in this equation.

    I, and others, have been saying it for years, the county is in fact using our money to pay for services that are provided elsewhere in the county. There is no way around that little fact.

    Although the Mayor of the county is improperly calculating the costs and payments based on “property taxes” rather than “already shared revenues”, this example illustrates how imbalanced the payment for services render really is in this county.

    Using the County Mayor’s calculations we could essentially pay for all of WEMA’s services in this city using only the portion of the total contributions he says that we make just for fire suppression and rescue.

    Guys, the jig is up. The county cannot possibly continue to provide its services without establishing fire tax districts and fire taxes.

    I can slice this and dice this anyway they want to look at it, and in the end, it still comes up that the county is taking our money and spending it elsewhere and that they need to establish fire tax districts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s