County-Wide Fire Department Law Changed!

2012 Public Act  Chapter 771 § 1 codified into law the renaming of “Fire Taxes” and “Fire Taxing Districts” to “Fire and Emergency Services Taxes” and “Fire and Emergency Services Districts” to reflect what they were originally intended to cover.  According to Representative Phillip Johnson, “All we did was clarify what the tax already was.”  Haven’t I been saying that?  Isn’t that what I have been telling the county all along, that the fire tax was for the purpose of covering the services contemplated in, enumerated in, and contained in TCA 5-17-102?  Haven’t I been telling the county that all emergency services provided by the county are part of the county wide fire department that was established for the purpose of providing fire protection services to all of Wilson County?  Finally, FINALLY, someone of authority did something brilliant.  They codified in law that the districts and taxes are meant for “Emergency Services” and not just “Fire Suppression.”  

TCA 5-17-101 says, in pertinent part:

 (2) As an alternative to fire and emergency services tax districts, the county legislative body is hereby authorized to allocate revenue from the general fund of the county to fund fire protection services to be provided to the unincorporated portions of the county. Any such revenues allocated for fire protection services shall be generated by situs-based taxes collected in unincorporated areas of the county or shall originate from other revenue sources that have already been shared with municipalities;

Here is the problem that the county is going to have.  First of all, it will be ever more difficult for them to convince a judge that the general assembly never really meant for the county wide fire department to include ambulance, rescue, and first aid, and that those services are authorized under TCA 58-2-101 et seq now that this law has been passed.  Clearly it was the intent of the general assembly to provide emergency services other than just fire suppression as a part of the countywide fire department.  The second thing is that, once they have to accept that all emergency services are part of the countywide fire department, they will not be able to cover the costs of those services using the alternative form of funding authorized in TCA 5-17-101.  If they can’t cover those costs with the alternative form of funding, they will have to levy fire and emergency services taxes.  That requires that they establish districts so as to closely reflect the costs of services provided in a district.  

Fire and Emergency Services Taxes are the only legal way that Wilson County can provide emergency services on the level and scale that they are providing them because they simply cannot find enough alternative forms of funding to pay for them.

Fire and Emergency Services Taxes are one of the most fair forms of taxes I have ever heard of, yet some don’t want them.  They would rather continue to have the rest of us subsidize Lebanon’s Ambulance Services.  You see, Lebanon receives so much ambulance service at county expense that it offset all of the costs of fire suppression provided to this city and still leaves a net balance in Lebanon’s favor.  It isn’t Mt. Juliet that is the problem after all, Mt. Juliet pays for more services than we are provided.  Lebanon is the problem.  Lebanon receives substantially more services than that for which they pay.  

This new law, for whatever reasons it was sponsored and approved, is a Godsend.  

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “County-Wide Fire Department Law Changed!

  1. Southsider

    Voters in Mt. Juliet recently voted to amend the city’s charter to prohibit elected officials from holding more than one elected office. An overwhelming 87% voted for the amendment.

    When those voters thought about it, there really is no good reason for one person to hold two government positions at the same time. It essentially grants a person and the area(s) represented by that person an unfair advantage.

    There are a couple of great examples of how dual office holders have over-delivered to their areas – right here in Wilson County!

    The WEMA Director (Jewel) is also the Watertown Fire Chief. Wilson County recently built a state-of-the-art Fire Station in Watertown even though there is much greater per capita need for new stations all over this county. It is not to say that Watertown shouldn’t ever get a new fire station, but a new station in Watertown cannot be the highest priority when there are still areas in this county with no fire service at all.

    The Mayor of Watertown (Jennings) is also the County Attorney. The County recently voted to build a state-of-the-art brand new High School in Watertown. The problem is that Watertown is not growing and hasn’t grown much in 50 years. The bus trips required to fill that school with children will have to stretch from LaGuardia to Gladeville. I was told that Wilson Central would be in the Watertown school district!

    These are two glaring examples of how multiple position holders are over-delivering county assets to their areas. And your representative is under-delivering to your area.

    Well, unless you live in Watertown.

  2. Old Blevins

    I don’t know about County Commissioner Jimbo, but City Commissioner Jimbo has underdelivered for years- unless standing around grinning at your kids’ sporting events counts for something.

    Watertown’s existing high school is already half empty. How on earth do they justify a new one?

  3. Southsider

    Jim (I sued the voters with their money to hold two offices) Bradshaw is the exception. He under represents his areas so badly his holding of two seats is unfair to the very people who voted him in. Oh well, let the buyer beware.

    I have never understood the political appeal of Jim Bradshaw.

  4. 4Gone

    Despite his limited intellectual arsenal, Jimbo is the consumate schmoozing politician. And remember members of the electorate aren’t exactly brain surgeons either. I predict next time he’s out as more professionals and well-heeled retirees move into his district, but I also thought he’d get 5 percent in the Mayor’s race and he outpolled Elam’s winning percentage four years ago.

  5. Butch Huber

    He pulled Del Webb I bet. Sydney Payne and others were not happy with Ed Hagerty. Sydney Payne is jewish and she has a problem with all of the Christianity in both Ed’s and Jamie’s campaigns. I think she really had a problem with the megachurch comment.

  6. Doc Cider

    Jimbo started pandering to Del Webb when he was challenged from there. I’m sure many people at Del Webb and within Providence consider Jim to be a moron, but I can see your point.

  7. HUBER

    Before you have your time with the mayor, make an appointment with HR. Aske the lady to show you Jewell’s personnel file. Ask how much of YOUR $$ was spent to settle out of court an assault charge between Jewell and a subordinate a couple of years ago. Then ask how much of YOUR money was spent to replace or repair county property (fans and chairs) that Jewell destroyed in temper tantrums. Ask her about how many complaints have been made concerning his language and demeanor especially by female employees. Take away his cursing and he cant complete a sentence. Ask her then the mayor what REALLY happened to YOUR $150k investment of MJ volunteers. Check his qualifications to be YOUR fire chief. He is not legal nor remotely qualified. This is guy YOUR city is using as a resource. Then put the full court press on his boss and watch them hands go to work while he talks.

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