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A New Tax In PE? Why Not Simply Fully Fund Volunteer Emergency Responders

Volunteer firefighters should not have to be fundraisers, too.

Period.

Yet we force these people, who voluntarily risk their lives to save our own skin and homes from flames, to spend many additional hours pleading with us to make donations to pay the bills their departments incur while rescuing us.

Disgraceful.

We take so much advantage of their incredible dedication to public service.

Don’t forget the ungodly number of hours these individuals must also spend training, studying and earning certification that allows them to give up so much of their lives to save us.

And most of these folks have families.

They have jobs.

They have lives to live.

Volunteer firefighters and volunteer rescue squad personnel should not have to spend one skinny minute raising money.

Localities should fully fund their volunteer fire departments and rescue squads through annual appropriations.

Absolutely.

Prince Edward County is discussing the possibility of instituting a special tax levy on real estate and personal property dedicated to the operation and maintenance of fire departments and the rescue squad.

This may or may not be the best approach but if the spirit behind that proposal is to make certain the fire departments and the rescue squad are fully funded each year then that spirit is the right one.

Achieving this goal would be simpler, however, by just making certain the annual appropriations from the general fund get the job done.

There is a legitimate worry that a new tax, like the Virginia Lottery, would not increase funding for volunteer fire departments and the volunteer rescue squad but simply shift the source of funding from the general fund to this new tax.

That might also shift taxpayer ire to these dedicated and self-less volunteers, human nature being what it is, and that would be terribly wrong. The buck begins and stops with the elected Board of Supervisors, which is paid for their public service, by the way.

There is also concern that if Prince Edward County enacts this new tax it might negatively affect fire department fundraising, county residents feeling that, well, we pay this special tax so why do they need me to buy a gallon of stew or send them a check in the mail.

Of course it would have a negative effect.

But that misses the point because it is based on the assumption that fundraising by these volunteers, despite the new tax, would be necessary.

If Prince Edward County’s Board of Supervisors does enact this new tax then fundraising by these volunteers should become a thing of the past.

Likewise, if the County chooses to continue making appropriations through the general fund then fundraising by firefighters and rescue squad personnel should also become nothing more than a memory.

Whatever you do, Prince Edward, fully fund these volunteer emergency responders.

Until the County accepts that responsibility, where an inadequate and insufficient amount of money comes from each year completely misses the point and continues placing an unjustified burden on backs already carrying more weight than they should have to.

—JKW—