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Putnam voters considering first-ever public safety levy

WINFIELD, W.Va. — Voters in Putnam County will decide on the county’s first-ever public safety levy in Tuesday’s election.

The levy would replace the county’s longtime fire service fee, which is based on the square footage of a property and hasn’t been increased in a decade.

Putnam County Fire Coordinator Rich Pullin said the current system of funding fire departments and EMS is unsustainable.

“We’re looking at setting up a five year levy that will be renewed with the public every four yeas. That way we will be able to reassess every four years and answer any concerns the public may have and keep it moving forward,” Pullin said.

The fire service fee has been used to draw down matching grants through the years to help fund the departments but Pullin said in recent years the lack of any increases has left a revenue shortfall which is starting to put the emergency system in jeopardy.

“The fire fee has been unchanged since 2012, we haven’t had an increase and we’ve done our best to maximize all of the funds with the rising cost of insurance, workers’ comp, utilities, fuel, repairs, just like all of the citizens have faced,” Pullin said.

The current revenue is not keeping up with inflation, Pullin said.

It’s not keeping up with the cost of equipment and repairs. Insurance and workers’ comp alone is almost $300,000 a year and increases annually, ” he said.

Officials hope voters will approve the levy which will create a more robust and stable stream of revenue the county can rely on to fund emergency services.