Fire fee review to begin

CHARLES TOWN – After a many-years-long process of development, a proposed emergency services fee may soon be voted on by the County Commission.

[cleeng_content id="404990690" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]At last week’s meeting, Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency director Doug Pittinger told commissioners that, after some final revisions to come at their meeting Tuesday night, which occurred after press time, a final draft of the proposed ordinance would be ready for a vote.

“We ask that you continue moving forward with this ordinance in a timely manner,” Pittinger said.

Commissioner Dale Manuel, who noted that the commission and the JCESA have been working to draft a proposal for years, agreed that the time for a vote was approaching.

“I think that the time has come for us to dig in and to work with the proposal,” Manuel said.

Manuel proposed that the bill go through a three-readings process modeled on that used in the state Legislature and many municipalities. The first reading, scheduled for the June 27 meeting, will primarily be an opportunity to receive comment from citizens.

“It’s sort of the red flag so that everyone knows it is out here,” Manuel said. “The public gets more opportunity to address it and more opportunity to know that it’s out there before the final vote.”

During the second reading, which will take place the following week, commissioners will have an opportunity to propose and vote upon amendments to the ordinance.

The following week, after a third reading, the commission will finally vote upon the ordinance.

Commissioner Walt Pellish spoke vehemently against the move to bring the fire fee to a vote, saying it was “not ready for prime time.”

“If you put this in front of me right now, I’m gonna tell you point blank: I will not support it,” he said.

“What I heard at a meeting a week or two weeks ago was a lot of discussion and a lot of concern that what was in here was unacceptable. Why the hell do we want to put that out in front of people if it is unacceptable? Make the revisions that you really want and then let’s do three readings on that.”

Pellish said he worried about the legality of the ordinance and how the fee is calcualted for homes and businesses. He also said he objects to a proposal to hire a business manager to administer the JCESA and oversee the fee’s collection.[/cleeng_content]

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