KENTVILLE – The Kentville Volunteer Fire Department has issued a request to both Kentville and Kings County for an area rate that would mean extra money for spending on upgrades and ongoing costs.
The department requested $0.0336 per $100.00 of assessment in funding for capital expenditures and upgrades, to a total of $626,000.
While the Joint Fire Services Committee, made up of members from the county, the town, and the community, gives the initial O.K., the public has the final say. Ratepayers – anyone owning property within the limits of the county and town fire zones – meet each time a request is made, vote yes or no, and their answer determines whether the rate moves forward or not.
Kentville fire chief Ryan MacEachern said putting the vote to the town is an essential part of the process.
“It’s right thing to do. I also give a presentation and outline why we’re asking for that specific rate, and what the money will go toward,” he said.
“We are always transparent with the public.”
This year, they will meet Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the fire department’s auditorium. There has never been a vote where the rate didn’t pass.
The county has levied and payed an area rate to the Kentville Volunteer Fire Department since 2000, according to county CAO Scott Conrod.
The meetings are known for being attended mostly by fire department members themselves and few other community members, but MacEachern said he doesn’t see this as a concern.
“The way I see that is if there were lots of problems with the services, people would show up and tell us about it. People seem to be happy with the service, and I would hope that’s why these meetings go the way they do,” he said.
Kentville mayor Sandra Snow said she has never had reason to feel concerned with the area rates proposed by the department, calling the method a great way to decide on funding.
“That’s one of the things about Kentville Fire – they know what service they’re going to deliver,” she said.
“They know their budget and training needs and are a very professional volunteer service. And that’s really quite incredible.”
The area rate’s budget goes towards capital spending for the department, which means anything with a shelf life of over seven years and a cost of over $5,000.
The list of items needing to be purchased differs year to year. This year’s list includes items like continuing payments for several firetrucks, fire hoses, a new exhaust system for the truck bays at the department, and turnout gear consisting of bunker gear, overalls and hoods.
Things like new gloves, new helmets and new boots are also necessary expenses, but fall outside the capital spending category, and into the department's operations budget.
This year’s area rate request is also on the low end, with the department having asked for as high as almost five cents per 100 feet of assessment in 2001, when they needed to buy a new aerial and ladder truck.
“Our rule is we always aim to stay under five cents. Our goal is to project our expenses, because things like new trucks need to be balanced. We are never going to overload the budget,” said MacEachern.
A full list of the gear:
- Continued payments for five trucks
- Canaan Mountain Tower upgrades
- Turn out gear
- Fire hozes
- Stabilizer kit for vehicle extractions
- Ball intake valve
- Fire training facility
- Special materials cutter for vehicle extractions
- Video security upgrade
- Air conditioning in the Cascade room
- LED lights for the truck bays
- Training mannequin
- Exhaust system for truck bays
- Fixes to the department’s back ramp
- Roll up doors and electronic door openers
If granted, the request would increase area rates for anyone living within the Kentville Volunteer Fire Department’s district, which include Coldbrook, Brooklyn Corner, Tupper Lake, Aylesford Lake, McGee lake, North River, North Alton, South Alton, Welton’s Corner, West Canaan, Forest Home, Blue Mountain, Murphy Lake, Gaspereau Lake, Hwy 12 to the County Line, Kentville, North Kentville, Aldershot, Steam Mill, Centerville, Gibson Woods Road, Northville, Billtown, Lakeville and Meadowview.