Marlinton mayor pushing for county fire fee
Marlinton, W.Va. – During Monday night’s council meeting, Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith says all Pocahontas County residents should pay a fire fee.
“It’s most definitely true that the fire departments’ costs of operating, today, is a lot higher than it was back in the 80s or whenever it was adopted,” he said. “But I think it’s time that the county fire board, the three municipalities and the six or seven fire departments in the county put some pressure on the county to adopt a county-wide fire fee.”
Marlinton currently charges a fire fee of $25 per residence and $75-150 for businesses. Smith says the town has no authority to collect fees from out-of-town residents who are served by the Marlinton VFD.
“There’s several people that lives in the country, surrounding the Marlinton area – even up in the Huntersville area – that pays Marlinton’s fire fee, but it’s not mandatory,” he said. “I think it’s time the county bites the bullet and initiates a county-wide fire fee for everybody.”
Councilmember Sue Helton says fire departments already receive county funding.
“Each year, out of hotel/motel [tax], $50,000 is paid to the Fire Association and it’s distributed to the fire departments in the county,” she said.
Recorder Robin Mutscheller says a Greenbrier County town is considering raising its fire fees and Marlinton might need to do the same.
“Rainelle was looking at raising its residential fee from $30 to $48 and their business fee from $60 to $96 annually,” she said. “Just as a first step, to get people talking about it, and to look at the other Class IV municipalities – if Star could call around and just get an idea of where we are with relation to the other municipalities – and then Sue and I will meet with the fire department, whenever they’re ready, and look at their financial statement.”
The mayor agreed to have town staff collect information from other municipalities.
Council considered renewing the contract with the West Virginia State Police for town law enforcement. Councilmembers had nothing but praise for the State Police.
Mutscheller recounts a recent incident.
“I’d like to say that I had a personal occasion to have to dial 911 and I can say the State Police were on the scene in five minutes or less – that the perpetrators were apprehended about five minutes later,” she said. “So, I was extremely, I was extremely thankful and extremely impressed.”
Council unanimously approved a new six-month contract, at the cost of $1,080 per week. Troopers will patrol the town Friday nights, Saturday nights and two other nights during the week.
Councilmember Louise Barnisky says she was shocked during a recent walk-through of the Municipal Building.
“I went around and looked at the building and it’s bad, it is bad,” she said. “I mean one of those sinks up there had filth in it that deep. I was shocked to death. But my suggestion to Joe is, that we hire a girl or someone to come in here and help get it cleaned up and keep this place cleaned up.”
Council hired a part-time employee to clean the building and keep it clean.
Mutscheller, the flood protection project coordinator, said the project remains unfunded, but that the Army Corps district engineer would be inspecting the project site on January 14.
Council tabled action on directional signs until more information is obtained.
The mayor appointed councilmember Norris Long and Mutscheller to serve on a committee to re-draft the town’s election ordinance.