BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KFSM) — Voting was held in Benton County for a proposed increase in dues for the Northeast Benton County (NEBCO) Volunteer Fire Department.
The special election passed by 2 votes, 212 for and 210 against raising the fire dues. It has been 19 years since NEBCO's last dues increase.
The passage of this increase means that there will now be two paid positions for firefighters four days a week. The department might also be able to replace aging and expired equipment. The vote does not include EMS dues.
Fire dues are 66.79% of NEBCO fire operation budget. The rest of the budget is 16.19% from grants, 7.40% from donations and 6.77% from fundraising.
To help put it in perspective the average cost to for a single set of turnout gear is just under $3,000, meaning it takes approximately two breakfast proceeds to pay for the one set of turnout gear.
The dues amounts are a three-tiered system that is based on the county appraised value on property. The dues are not a tax, they are the amount of the fee for fire protection.
Here are the current dues amounts and then the proposed due increase amounts.
The current dues for fire only are as follows:
Appraised value of $0-$99k is $40
Appraised value of $100k-$299 is $75
Appraised value of $300k and up is $120
Appraised value of $0-$99k-$84 or $.23 a day
Appraised value of $100k-$299k -$154 or $.42 a day
Appraised value of $300K and up $244 or $.67 a day
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