Polk vot­ers turn down county’s paid-vol­un­teer fire plan

Is­sue could go be­fore county com­mis­sion in com­ing year

The Standard Journal - - ELECTIONS - By KEVIN MYRICK Ed­i­tor

Polk County man­ager Matt Den­ton is fig­ur­ing out the next step for of­fi­cials to take fol­low­ing the fail­ure of the Paid/ Vol­un­teer Fire Plan to pass in the gen­eral elec­tion.

The plan that would have re­or­ga­nized fire sta­tions in Polk County and phased in paid fire­fight­ers at ev­ery sta­tion failed to pass on the bal­lot on Nov. 4 by just 26 votes, such a slim mar­gin that Den­ton is un­sure what to do next about the plan.

“It didn’t pass, but there was no clear majority of peo­ple say­ing no or yes,” he said. “The com­mis­sion is just go­ing to have to put their minds to­gether and see what the next step is.”

Vot­ers de­feated the bal­lot mea­sure in a 2,875 to 2,849 contest, with votes at Polk County’s seven precincts nar­row through­out. No bal­lots took the majority at Bloom­ing Grove 298-242, at Fish Creek 478-442, at Lake Creek 539-450 and at Young’s Grove 351-275. Aragon res­i­dents sup­ported the mea­sure 432 to 342, in Cedartown 461434 and Rock­mart 547433.

He was shocked by the elec­tion tal­lies once they came in on Nov. 4.

“I thought it would ei­ther pass or fail sig­nif­i­cantly,” he said.

Den­ton said with the mar­gin of de­feat so close, the plan might come back up through the county Board of Com­mis­sion­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to the state Con­sti­tu­tion, county com­mis­sion­ers can bring the plan back to life by cre­at­ing a spe­cial ser­vice dis­trict just inside the county for the fire depart­ment. It would not have to go back be­fore vot­ers for the county to set up the dis­trict, and would only re­quire its pro­posal and ap­proval at a com­mis­sion meet­ing.

He said he was un­sure if the com­mis­sion will be will­ing to take up the is­sue at the be­gin­ning of the com­ing year, but said its en­tirely pos­si­ble.

No mat­ter what hap­pens with the fire plan, Den­ton said ac­tion will be needed to pre­vent fu­ture prob­lems.

“One thing is for sure: some­thing has to be done in the near fu­ture to pre­serve fire pro­tec­tion in the county,” he said. “I just don’t know what right now.”

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