Thomas County needs new fire plan - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Thomas County needs new fire plan

September 27, 2006

Thomasville -- For 40 years Thomasville has agreed to provide fire protection for Thomas County. Now both parties have less than 100 days to put a new agreement in place. An increase in the county's fee could prompt them to dissolve the agreement.

Homeowners in fire districts one and two already pay taxes for the protection, and without an agreement their insurance rates would likely rise.  

Barb Dooley lives in Thomas County with her husband and dozens of pet birds. Right now, in fire district two she feels safe.  "We are very protected and very safe, we have a fireman that lives across the street," she said.

Negotiation will begin next week for a new joint fire service agreement between the city and county. "It's great for both parties, without the contract it would be difficult for Thomasville to continue to have the level of service that we have," said Thomasville City Manager Steve Sykes.

A big concern for homeowners in fire district two is if commissioners don't reach an agreement, insurance costs could soar. "I say it would probably increase fire premiums for homeowners insurance because what would happen if the city didn't continue to provide fire coverage and fire protection, right now the city enjoys an ISO rating of three and the lower that number the better," said  Sykes.

Thomasville is asking the county for an increase in the fee they pay for fire protection. The county pays just $650,000 of the $2.5 million fire budget. With anticipated growth, mostly in the county, the city will need to increase protection.

"We have to make sure that when we fix this fee again, over the term of this contract that we don't hamstring ourselves to the point where we can't hire the fire personnel that we need to provide for this growth," said  Sykes.

Dooley hopes the two can reach an agreement, because she can't afford one more increase. "That's why we moved from Florida, because taxes went up almost three thousand dollars and another two year it will probably be the same as it was in Florida."

And with a 40 year history of working together the city hopes the relationship can continue. Fire District one and two are in a 50 square mile radius around the city limits. Thomas County's own volunteer fire fighters handle coverage in fire district three.


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