Opposition kills fire figher’s tax

Published 10:05 pm Friday, April 2, 2010

After meeting opposition, a bill to increase property taxes in parts of Pike County will be delayed for at least another year.

The proposal, which would add a 2-mill property tax to all of Pike County except the city of Troy, was set to make it to the Alabama Legislature this year. The bill to benefit the county’s volunteer fire departments and the county road department was approved by the Pike County Commission and had met advertising requirements.

But, the problem with the bill arose when the city of Brundidge notified officials its residents weren’t on board.

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“We prefer to have the same status as Troy,” said Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage.

The reason Brundidge wasn’t excluded from the bill originally is because the city has a volunteer fire department.

However, Ramage said the city already supports its volunteer fire department financially.

“We support them with equipment and everything else they need,” Ramage said. “Our citizens and our businesses, that’s part of the sales tax they pay and ad valorem tax and utilities.”

For this year, City Manager Brit Thomas said Brundidge has budgeted $73,000 for its fire department.

The bill, though it would have been split to benefit both the fire departments and the Pike County Road Department, was spearheaded by the county’s Volunteer Fire Fighters Association.

Ray Armstrong, chief of the Springhill Volunteer Fire Department and secretary/treasurer of the fire fighters association, said Brundidge was included in the bill simply because it was a volunteer fire department, whereas Troy’s department is not.

“We were hoping it would go through this time, but it’s not going to happen,” Armstrong said.

“It will be rewritten for next time so we can get it passed and try again.”

If passed in the Legislature this time, it would have come before the county’s voters in the June primary elections.

Pike County Commission Chairman Jimmy Barron called it “disappointing” the bill won’t make it through session.

“It is disappointing that it’s come this far. We’ve spent money on it, and Brundidge wants to back out of it,” Barron said.

“This has been going on for two years.”

Barron said the proposal has been guided by the fire departments from the start.

“We were just listening to the volunteer fire departments,” he said. “We need to get it right.”

The commission is the entity that has funded the bill’s required advertising costs.