Rural fire policy discussed in SF
Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 9:37 pm
By CHRIS MENEES
Messenger Staff Reporter
South Fulton City Commission member Keith Curlin says he is still being contacted by residents concerning the city’s rural fire coverage and would like to see some clarification to the policy.
The hot topic surfaced at the commission’s July 17 meeting when several rural South Fulton residents addressed commissioners with concerns about the current rural fire ordinance in the aftermath of a July 2 house fire that sparked the controversy.
The owner of the home that burned apparently had not paid the $75 fee for rural fire service outside the city limits of South Fulton, a fee which was set by city ordinance and has been effect for many years. The South Fulton Fire Department did respond to the scene when calls were made to report that two neighboring homes, which had rural fire service coverage, were endangered by the fire.
At its monthly session Thursday evening, the commission heard briefly from Gary McDaniel, a neighbor to the house that burned, who said he was unable to attend the July meeting when the issue was addressed. He told commissioners he wants to make sure it’s understood that rural residents would like to see something done to ensure they have fire protection. He asked commissioners at what point the fire department decides to respond and protect his house.
South Fulton Mayor Ron Haskins told McDaniel it is his understanding that if a home is in danger and the resident has paid the required rural fire service fee, the fire department will respond. He also said he believes Obion County Commission members, as well as fire officials from across the county, have been addressing the issue of rural fire coverage. He said it is more difficult to coordinate county-wide but assured McDaniel that county officials are working on a solution.
Curlin had asked for the rural fire issue to be placed on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting and reported he has been contacted by several people who would like to see changes. He said he would also like to see it made “very clear” that Haskins’ response to McDaniel about the fire department’s responding to an endangered home will happen in the event of a fire. He said he doesn’t believe the issue was fully addressed last month.
Haskins asked city manager Jeff Vowell and city attorney Karl Ivey if they could draft a resolution to make it clear that if a house is in danger and the rural fire fee has been paid, the fire department will respond. Vowell said he would like to work with Curlin on the matter to ensure all of his concerns are addressed.
No other comments from citizens were heard during the meeting, but several residents spoke with Curlin afterward.
In other action during Thursday’s meeting, which was opened with prayer led by Vice Mayor Charles Moody and with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Ivey, the commission:
• Approved by a vote of 4-1 the first of two required readings of an ordinance setting the city’s budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year and establishing the property tax rate. Haskins, Moody and commissioners David Crocker and Thomas Pettigrew voted in favor of the proposed ordinance, while Curlin cast the lone dissenting vote.
The proposed budget includes: General Fund, $938,630 in revenue and $891,137 in expenditures; the Utility Fund (water and sewer), $1,226,300 in revenue and $1,065,374 in expenditures; and the Natural Gas Fund, $1,258,929 in revenue and $1,198,418 in expenditures.
The levied real property and personal tax rate proposed in the budget-related ordinance is $1.70 per $100 assessment for the purpose of funding municipal services. The real property assessment ratio would include: residential and farm, 25 percent of appraised value; commercial and industrial, 40 percent of appraised value; and personal property, 30 percent of appraised value.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance regarding the South Fulton municipal flood plain, which Vowell said is required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to be a member of the National Flood Insurance Program. A public hearing and a second reading are required.
• Learned from Haskins that a review of the city’s personnel policy begun about two years ago was never completed. He said commissioners need to review the policy. Vowell said he can also contact the Municipal Technical Advisory Service for some model policies.
• Approved the first readings of two required readings of three separate ordinances pertaining to annexation and rezoning. They include an ordinance to amend the annexation of various parcels on U.S. Highway 45 and Parker Road adjacent to the city and to incorporate the amendments within the city’s corporate boundaries; a companion ordinance to amend the city’s zoning map to zone property located on U.S. Highway 45 and Parker Road to R-1 (residential); and a complementary ordinance to amend the city’s zoning map to zone property located on U.S. Highway 45 and Milltown Road to A (agricultural).
A required public hearing on the proposed ordinances has been scheduled for Sept. 2 at 5 p.m. in the commission room at the South Fulton Municipal Complex. It will precede a called meeting of the commission.
• Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance setting various fines and costs. The first reading had been heard at the commission’s July meeting.
• Heard from resident Charles Turner, who inquired about a storm sewer and specifically who is responsible for its upkeep. He also voiced safety concerns for children playing in the area of the storm sewer. Vowell asked Turner to contact him so they could further review the matter.
• Learned that city officials are continuing to work on the situation with the bridge closed on Forestdale Avenue.
• Was informed by Vowell that lots are being mowed throughout the city and absentee owners will be billed for the service.
In a mowing-related matter, Curlin said an area along the roadway in the Connell Drive and Pamela Circle area is “grown up” and poses a hazard in an “S” curve. Vowell said the section can be added to the mowing list.
• Learned from Vowell that the city will be applying for a used oil heater grant for the city’s maintenance shop. He said the used oil heater would utilize used oil from vehicles, making it good for the environment as far as recycling efforts.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 8.22.08