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.