Anderson County Commissioners took the next step in the creation of Emergency Service District 1 on Tuesday — holding a public hearing that essentially puts the decision on the ballot for November 2014.
Eddie Crockett, chief of the Tennessee Colony Volunteer Fire Department, was the lone speaker during Tuesday's hearing, sharing his concerns about rising costs of operating a VFD, particularly in the area of insurance.
“We were just notified that our insurance rates went from $296 for six months to $5,000 for a year of coverage, per truck,” Crockett explained. “We have two trucks and only receive $13,000 a year from the county.
“This is a prime example of the increasing equipment and operating expenses that we as VFD have to cover,” he continued. “These costs have increased astronomically, with no real explanation. It is unbelievable.”
The creation of the ESD, which would include the coverage areas of Tennessee Colony VFD, Westside VFD and the Bethel-Cayuga VFD, was first brought to the attention of commissioners during a Sept. 9 meeting.
“The taxing district, formed only by voter approval, would be overseen by a five-member board/commission appointed by the county commissioners court,” Crockett told the court. “The county commissioners would no longer support the department financially, but funding would come from taxpayers for training, equipment and ESD operations.”
The three VFDs obtained the required 300 signatures needed in order to get the issue on the ballot and submitted that petition to the county judge prior to the Sept. 9 meeting. The petitioners on the list were verified by the Anderson County Appraisal District and the county election department.
Crockett reported previously that a series of community meetings would be held after Tuesday's petition hearing in order to inform the public about the ESD prior to the election.
“We really want to educate the community about this,” Crockett said. “I think that was a mistake we made when we had tried to do this before.”