Valley Lee requests hike in its fire, rescue taxes
New station for Company 6 in the works
The Second District Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad wants to get the word out early that it plans to increase the fire and rescue taxes that support it in the next fiscal year to help pay for a new station.
The department, the county’s only combined fire and rescue operation, has been in the same location since 1961. The station has been renovated or added onto six times. There is no more room there, its staff told the St. Mary’s County commissioners on Tuesday, and other costs keep going up.
The department is asking permission to hike its fire and rescue tax rates in the fiscal 2019 year, which does not start until July 1, 2018.
The current rates are different
in the two election districts in Company 6’s firstdue response area.
The fire tax rate in the 2nd District is currently 4.4 cents per $100 of assessed value, and 3.6 cents in the 9th District (St. George Island). Those rates are proposed to increase to 5.6 cents in the 2nd District and to 5 cents in the 9th District. The last increase in the fire tax there was in 2000.
The rescue tax rate is currently 0.8 of a cent per $100 of assessed value in both election districts, and is proposed to go to 1.7 cents. The last hike in the rescue tax rate for those two districts was in 2005.
The total increase of the two hikes in the 2nd District would be $29 more a year per $100,000 of a home’s assessed value, and in the 9th District, the annual increase would be $31 a year per $100,000 of assessed value.
For a new station in the Valley Lee area, “that is completely worth it,” Commissioner Tom Jar- boe (R) said. An increase of $87 a year for a $300,000 home for a state-of-the-art facility, “I’m all for it,” he said.
The plans for a new station, which would be located behind the current station with an entrance on Piney Point Road, is still under design and an estimate of its cost is not yet completed, Company 6 officials told The Enterprise on Tuesday.
“As supported by a 2014 feasibility study, the current station is inadequate to carry forward into the next 50 years,” Company 6 officials told the commissioners in a memo. A membership vote of confidence was made last year for a new station and “the new station would provide a safe, modern facility to attract and keep younger people as well as provide conditions for members to be on site [for] longer periods; thus, reducing emergency response times.”
“The key to me is you don’t have enough space,” Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R) said.
Commissioner John O’Connor (R) said there was “no community sup- port for this tax increase” when it was presented before two years ago. “There was a lot of pushback,” he said.
“We didn’t have all our balls in a basket,” Michael Roberts, public information officer for Company 6, said. “We weren’t as prepared as we could have been. I think we’re much more prepared this go-round,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s a groundswell of opposition. I think there is a rabble-rouser,” Jarboe said. The commissioner said he heard from many at a community meeting at St. George Island about the proposed hike. “Every person in the room said they had no problem whatsoever with the increase,” Jarboe said.
The Valley Lee fire department typically re- sponds to 340 calls a year and 1,000 ambulance calls a year, the commissioners were told.
In addition to the proposed hikes in the fire and rescue tax rates, Valley Lee would also pay for the new station with its own funds, loans, grants, fundraisers and donations.
A community meeting about the proposed increases is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Second District Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad community hall at 45245 Drayden Road in Valley Lee.
A formal request to the county commissioners on the increases would be made in January, with a request for a local public hearing which would be held in February.
The Valley Lee Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad is seeking a hike in its fire and rescue tax rates in the fiscal 2019 year to help pay for a new station which is being designed.