BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KFSM) – Voters approved a measure to increase their fire dues for the Northeast Benton County Volunteer Fire Department (NEBCO) on Tuesday (July 9th).
“I just greatly appreciate our supporters out there. I appreciate them coming out and supporting us when we need it,” Fire Chief Rob Taylor said.
Chief Taylor says their last dues increase was 19 years ago and equipment and operating costs have gone up.
“The need for having you know possibly two firefighters there 24 hours a day, at least four days a week if not more is going to make a huge change for our citizens, for safety for them but also safety for our firefighters themselves,” Taylor said.
NEBCO has five stations and a boat dock throughout its coverage area which goes from the Pea Ridge Military Park to the Carroll County line and to the Missouri state line—that's 84 square miles.
For someone owning property valued by the county at under $100,000, their dues will go from $40 to $84 a year.
Pete Rathmell has lived in the district for almost two decades and voted in support of increasing his dues.
“Our house is our retirement home and I would hate to see it get burned down and there are some very nice homes in this area and I'm sure people feel the same way. I am very comfortable of the leadership under Rob,” Rathmell said.
Chief Taylor says with the continuing growth of Benton County they need to prepare for the future.
“I think everybody wants good emergency service, that's all there is to it and with that, that costs money and volunteerism is a thing that's not only a problem in NEBCO's area or Northwest Arkansas, it`s a problem throughout the country,” Taylor said.
Less than 500 people came out to vote in the special election.