Bedford fire chief alarmed over fiscal court budget cuts

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As you are reading this it has been over four weeks since Trimble County Fiscal Court approved the first reading of a “tighter” budget for 2012-13. It seems quite convenient that Judge Stevens announces his resignation two weeks later. His resignation made the paper, why didn’t the budget reading?

To the citizens of Trimble County: Wake up! The fiscal court approved to cut both Bedford’s and Milton’s fire departments’ funds by $20,000, cutting each department from $30,000 to $20,000. Then announced an approval for $8,000 for the county park improvements and to purchase two trucks and a piece of equipment for $206,080. The $20,000 approved barely covers Bedford Fire Department’s insurance for the year, not including utilities, repairs for equipment and other necessities to run the department.

Bedford FD is a volunteer run and operated department. Our members do not receive any benefits for what they do. Bedford has not raised our annual subscription dues for many years; with the budget cut we will have no choice but to raise it in 2013. Bedford sends out over 1,000 subscription letters a year. We are lucky to get half of those back. We are very thankful for the subscriptions and donations we get back, but with this budget cut it will more than likely put the department in a bind.

Bedford FD has an annual budget of approximately $50,000, coming from the county, city and state aid. Between our insurance on our buildings and equipment and utilities, it takes a big chunk at $30,000. This does not include fuel and maintenance for our trucks. We rely on having extra money in the bank for grants and other unforeseen setbacks. On most grants you have to spend the full amount of said project before they will cut a reimbursement check, which in most cases is only half the amount back. If the money isn’t there to pay for a project, we lose out and probably wouldn’t be awarded again.

We may even have to close our station 2, which is located on Morton Ridge Road to recoup our operating costs from that location. We really don’t want to because it would devastate our ISO rating, and would increase a lot of residential insurance premiums.

Magistrates Kirby Melvin and Nolan Hamilton may have served Bedford Fire Department in the past, but apparently they are living in the past because it is very clear they do not know what it takes to operate a modern day fire department. Insurance, utilities and fuel have tripled. We have twice the buildings, trucks and other equipment now than they were used to managing and maintaining. I cannot understand the theory behind their managing skills.

My resources of the budget cut are from The Madison Courier on May 22, which does not include any other cuts besides both fire departments. I hope that the citizens that are reading take a look at what the fiscal court is doing to the fire services in the county. This budget cut is hurting both departments. In turn, it will hurt the citizens of our great community.

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffery Wright, Chief
Bedford Volunteer Fire and Rescue