Will study point the way to a Hawkins County fire department?

Jeff Bobo • Sep 10, 2012 at 4:55 AM

ROGERSVILLE — One Hawkins County commissioner said Sunday he believes the cost of a countywide fire department would outweigh the benefits, but there’s still much more investigation to be conducted before the proposal is approved or denied.

Robert Palmer, who chairs the Hawkins County Commission’s Public Safety Committee told the Times-News Sunday he is willing to await the results of a study, and until all the data is in, before committing one way or the other.

The Public Safety Committee will meet Friday to consider asking County Mayor Melville Bailey to seek a study on the feasibility of a countywide fire department. The study would be conducted by the University of Tennessee’s County Technical Advisory Service (C-TAS).

A safety subcommittee that was formed to evaluate the feasibility of a countywide fire department met this past Wednesday with a representative from C-TAS and the chief of Bradley County’s countywide fire department. During that meeting the Bradley County fire chief discussed what was involved in getting their countywide department up and running.

“It has its pros and cons,” Palmer said Sunday. “The one thing that bothered me was they did their funding through a fire tax, which is basically funded by the county. To me it seems like it’s going to mean a tax increase. There’s no way around it.

“We’ve not looked at any cost, but if it was left up to the county to fund a countywide fire department, a penny (on the tax rate, or about $93,000) wouldn’t even be a drop in the bucket.” Hawkins County Fireman’s Association President Tony Fugate led a discussion of the subcommittee last month about the positive impacts of a countywide fire department.

Read the expanded version of this report in the enhanced electronic or print edition of the Times-News.

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