Polk Rescue Squad requests funding increase to 1/3 cent

Published 5:10 pm Friday, May 18, 2012

The Polk County Rescue Squad has asked Polk County to increase its funding from 1/4 of a cent tax revenue to a 1/3 of a cent.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday, May 15 to hear budget requests from its six fire departments, the Harmon Field Board of Supervisors and the rescue squad. The board will make its final decisions June 18.
Columbus and Mill Spring fire departments have also requested a one-cent tax increase for fiscal year 2012-2013, which begins July 1.
Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson has denied all requests for tax increases in the county. Commissioners have not yet indicated how they intend to vote on the requests.
The rescue squad currently receives $63,990 from the county annually to support its operations. Representatives told commissioners the squad needs the additional revenue to purchase defibrillators.
The increase would mean an additional $23,552 for the department, or a 37-percent increase. If the increase is funded, the rescue squad would receive $87,548 annually.
The requests from Columbus and Mill Spring fire departments would come from additional tax revenue while the rescue squad request would come from the county’s budget.
Columbus is requesting a one-cent tax increase in order to hire three full-time employees to staff the department 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Columbus currently has a paid fire chief who works first shift Monday through Friday and depends on volunteers during nights and weekends.
Columbus currently has a tax rate of 4 cents per $100 of property valuation. A one-cent tax increase from the county would mean an additional $64,000 to the Columbus Fire Department and an additional $11,568 from the town.
Mill Spring has asked for the increase to help offset increased fuel costs and increases in other supplies used by the department. One penny in Mill Spring would mean an additional $32,000 for the department.

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