Camden County to vote on additional fire protection funding

Voters in Camden County will cast ballots tomorrow to decide whether the county should raise taxes to provide more money for the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District.

Overall, staff at the Fire Protection District cover a lot of ground - amounting to 63 square miles.

The district employs nine paid firefighters and has 10 active volunteers. Fire Chief Dennis Reilly says they can't be everywhere at once. "We have three people assigned during any one 24-hours period," Reilly said. "If we have anyone off whether it's for vacation, sick leave, or family matters, that number drops down to two people for 63 square miles."

Thats why on Tuesday, Camden County voters will face a ballot question. The question reads, "Shall the Sunrise beach Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than 14 cents ($0.14) on the one hundred dollars on the one hundred dollars of assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of the Fire District?"

A yes vote means an additional $224,000 a year for the Fire Protection District. "We certainly have some needs in terms of our breathing apparatuses, our thermal imaging cameras, some hoses that need to be replaced, some new technology concerns like iPads and computers, that we can attach to our apparatus that will allow us to have mapping capability."

The Camden county clerk explains that in the end, it's actually less than a 14-cent hike - half is already being paid for under another tax-category.

I know seven cents of it is already in place," Said Rowland Todd, Camden County Clerk. "In the end, I think what they are actually asking for is just an additional seven cents."

Chief Reilly says, there is more at stake than money. "If we go to a housefire, and there's someone trapped inside that house... with two people, we have one person to run the machine, and one person to run the hose... we don't have that third set of hands to actually make the rescue.

Voters will decide Tuesday on whether to approve the proposition.

CORRECTION: In a version of the story which aired Monday, we calculated the property tax increase incorrectly. The incorrect numbers have subsequently been removed.