Commissioners approve tax changes to two fire districts

Wil Petty

February 24, 2014

The Ashe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the limitation of tax rates in two of the county’s fire districts during their twice-monthly meeting, on Monday, Feb. 17.

According to the resolution, “any fire service district taxes levied upon the (Lansing/Pond Mountain) Fire Service District will not exceed .15 cents on each $100 of property evaluation.”

County Manager Sam Yearick said there are plans for all Fire Service Districts in the county to have these resolutions as a way to prevent gray areas in the county’s emergency services.

“We would like (our emergency services coverage) to be as black and white as it could be,” he said in the meeting.

The Lansing and Pond Mountain VFDs are the first to be proposed and approved, because, Yearick said, they were the first ones to talk with him.

Yearick said the county is planning on working with the different volunteer fire departments to start fixing coverage issues within the county, which will take up to a year.

Some of these plans include redistricting so a person’s property is not in two different fire districts, and installing GPS systems on the emergency vehicles, so the county can physically watch the vehicles on dispatch maps to see where they are and how long it will take for them to get to a fire, wreck or ambulance call.

“We’re going to do a better job of crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s,” Yearick said.

Exchange of property

The board also unanimously approved a land exchange on Clarence Lyall Road between the County of Ashe and property owner Steve Halsey.

According to the resolution, the county and Halsey plan to exchange .07 acre tracts with each other. Both tracts are valued at $2,100. The exchange will help the Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Department have better access to supplies.

Yearick and County Attorney John Kilby pushed for the Board to go ahead and give approval.

“That would permit us to go ahead and do all the paperwork in the next week or so,” Yearick said.

Vice Chair Judy Porter Poe, before the vote was approved, wanted to make sure one clarification was in the contract.

“I would like to make sure this lease specifically states in there that anything that is on that property is going to be able to be used by any of the fire departments and the forestry association,” she said. “I think that needs to be very clear in this lease.”

Kilby said they could amend the lease to make sure that is added in the agreement.

A public notice was released by Yearick on Feb. 7 about the exchange of property, saying the resolution would be brought before the Board of Commissioners.

Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.