DOUGLAS, Ala. - On March 1, Marshall County residents will have a chance to vote on a measure that, if approved, would help fund their local volunteer fire services.
Three areas, determined as 'fire districts,' will be voting on the proposed measure that multiple other county fire districts have already approved.
Douglas is one of those three fire districts that will be voting. "There are some misconceptions out there, and I want to clear up the air on that," Douglas Mayor Corey Hill says, "It's going to be a fee on dwellings. It won't be your barn, or your chicken house, it won't be your shop or your shed."
Hill says he wants residents to understand the facts of the measure before heading to the polls.
They'll be voting on a $5 per month, per household fee that will be collected in property taxes. "The money can only be spent for training and equipment," Hill says, "It can't be spent on salaries; we can't hire a bunch of firemen to sit out here at the fire hall. It won't be wasted. We'll be audited by the state. It has to be accounted for."
Funding for these volunteer departments is very low, and that is why county officials say the measure was proposed several years ago. New equipment for fire departments costs thousands of dollars and it has to be kept up-to-date. Hill says a steady revenue source is available, but it dwindles each year. Volunteers with the departments fundraise to help keep things going.
"They're strictly volunteering their time," Hill says, "They come and fight fires in the middle of the night or weekends, whenever the call arises, and then we ask them to volunteer their time on the weekends to sell pancakes or BBQ and that's just not fair to those guys."
The Grant and Nixon Chapel fire districts will also be voting on the measure.
The town of Douglas has frequently asked questions on its website. You can find that here.