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Municipality of Pictou County to hire consultants to review fire funding

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Latest news. - SaltWire Network

PICTOU, N.S. – The Municipality of Pictou County will be hiring Fire Underwriters Survey to review how fire services within the county are funded and to come up with ideas for improving it.
The review comes with a price tag of $58,000, plus tax. The expense was approved at the Sept. 16 property services meeting for the Municipality of Pictou County.
The issue of fire funding has been a topic of debate at council in recent months because the current setup, which is partially based on a levy that fire departments are allowed to charge residents, benefits areas with higher property assessment values.
According to information from the municipality, 12 of the 17 departments make in excess of $100,000 from the fire levy while the remaining make less than $72,000.
The way it works now is that fire departments have the right to put an area levy on the residents within their area to fund their departments. Some charge as high as 20 cents on $100 of assessment. The municipality also covers the cost of insurance for the departments. Also, departments are eligible for grants. Most receive $4,000 but those in the areas with lower property assessment and less of a population can receive as much as $16,000 based on a funding model proposed by a previous council. 
This year, as part of its budget released June 10, the municipality approved emergency funding to the tune of $150,000 for five rural fire departments that are struggling to meet their operational needs and have a limited taxable assessment for fire protection. This equals an additional $30,000 this year for the following departments: Barney’s River, Pictou Landing, Blue Mountain, East River St. Mary’s and East River Valley fire departments. 
Fire Underwriters Survey will be required to consult with area fire chiefs as it does the review.
 


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