An annual fee to support fire protection and emergency medical services in Coffee County sparked a controversy at Monday's Coffee County Commission Meeting.
Unless a person's adjusted gross income is $12,000 dollars or less, all homeowners and businesses would pay $30-dollars a year to go to fire and emergency medical services.
Firefighter Joseph McCollough says a $30-dollar annual fee placed on homeowner and businesses would generate $600,000 dollars. Twenty percent would go to emergency medical services, but the lion share of the proceeds would go to the nine volunteer departments and Enterprise, which is a full-time paid department.
McCollough said, "We can use a $30-dollar fee across the county. And really, it's not that much when you look at other places in the country, where sometimes they pay as much as $100 to $150 dollars a year."
Lee Bloodsworth is a New Brockton volunteer firefighter. He says it takes a lot of dedication and anything to help out with needed equipment and supplies is sorely needed. "I think it’s a good thing. You get to help out the community, and you are helping out neighbors," he said.
Coffee County Commissioner Bernest Brooks said, "I here all this about taxes. If we have the extra money we need to help out our citizens. There’s plenty of waste across the country and overseas. We need to look out for our citizens here."
Coffee County Commissioner Robert Stephens said, "I don't believe in the tax, and since I don't believe in it, I’m not going to vote to place it before the folks to vote on it."
By a four-to-three county commission vote, the board decided not to put the $30-dollar fee before the voters.
However, supporters say they'll try and get it passed through the state legislature.
Houston and Dale Counties along with several others in the Wiregrass currently have an annual fee to help pay for emergency and fire services.