06/08/10 — Pikeville officials give $1,000 back to local VFD

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Pikeville officials give $1,000 back to local VFD

By Laura Collins
Published in News on June 8, 2010 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Members of the Pikeville-Pleasant Grove Volunteer Fire Department questioned the Pikeville Board of Commissioners on Tuesday as to why the town planned to cut its funding from $29,000 to $27,000.

Chief Ken Jones said the department "went through the same thing last year" with the town board and said he was under the impression when they agreed on $29,000 last year, they agreed that's what the department would receive for the next three years.

Commissioner Dennis Lewis said he does not remember that agreement, nor was he able to find that agreement in the recordings of the meetings.

"This is nothing personal," Commissioner Lymon Galloway said. "This is just hardcore money ... It really boils down to the money for us. We don't have the money. I think everyone had to cut."

Galloway added there isn't anything left to cut and that the only other option would be to tax the residents, which the board isn't interested in doing.

"I think all of us need to look where we can cut and what we can do to help each other," he said.

But fire department President Russell Robertson said if the percentage the fire department receives is based on taxes collected, there shouldn't be any reason that amount is $2,000 less than it was last year.

"The same businesses were here last year that are here now. The same taxpayers are here," he said, reiterating that the department isn't asking for more money, just asking for what it received last year.

Mayor Johnny Weaver asked the fire department officials if they could agree on a $1,000 increase, to $28,000, and plan to set up a meeting in the next 90 days to discuss the fee structure so next year both groups could agree on a figure before the budget is due.

Commissioner Todd Anderson made a motion to move $1,000 from the general fund to the fire department fund for the proposed budget. It was seconded by Lewis. Anderson, Lewis and Galloway voted in favor of it. Commissioner Ward Kellum voted against it.

Soon after, members of the fire department left. Lewis asked residents in attendance what they thought about the fire department situation.

Resident Jerry Bailey called it a "farce" and questioned the board spending more money on the fire department and for also spending $3,000 on fireworks for the Fourth of July. At the May board meeting, the board approved in a 4-0 vote to spend $3,000 on fireworks for the town's annual celebration.

Lewis did not vote on the issue because of a conflict of interest since he is the one doing the fireworks show. Kellum, Galloway and Greeson voted in favor of spending the money on fireworks.

Kellum, who voted against giving more money to the fire department, called spending money on fireworks a "God and country" kind of vote.

Anderson left the May meeting early, which is an automatic yes vote. He explained last night that he left because the fire alarm went off at his school, and had he been present at the meeting he would have voted against spending $3,000 on fireworks.

Anderson explained why he voted to give more money to the fire department.

"$1,000 is not worth it to me for them to go out and feel like they've been slighted," he said.