published Monday, July 29th, 2013

Marion County board to examine fire department fund

JASPER, Tenn. — Marion County leaders plan to update the formula used to distribute funds to rural volunteer fire departments in time for the next fiscal year’s budget.

Commissioner Don Adkins, chairman of the Marion County Commission’s finance committee, said in March that the way the county distributes the money among the departments should be “revisited” because it has been more than a decade since any adjustments had been made.

“Some of the fire departments are struggling, and I’ve been told that one or two of them are in pretty good shape,” Commissioner Tommy Thompson said last week. “We need to take a look here and see what’s going on.”

A group of county leaders and officials with the University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service met recently to discuss the process of allocating the funds to the volunteer fire departments, Adkins said.

“They’re going to work together to give us a current allocation of households in Marion County, and where we would re-do that formula for how funds are being distributed,” he said.

That process will be complete in time to include the updated formula in the next fiscal year’s budget, officials said.

Adkins said in March that some fire departments have “known balances” of almost $100,000, and the board needs to make sure the funds are being “allocated appropriately.”

“We’re going to have to look at this formula and the way we’re divvying up this money,” Thompson said. “I don’t understand how Haletown can have a fund balance like they’ve got, and some of the people in my district can’t even buy gas to put in their firetrucks.”

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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