NORTHEAST BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA) — Residents have voted to increase dues for the Northeast Benton County Volunteer Fire Department.
Voters took part in early elections Tuesday, July 10. Out of 2,338 registered voters, 423 ballots were submitted.
Voters were divided on the increase, as 212 were for and 210 were against the increase. Specifically, that is 50.2 percent against 49.8 percent.
With increased dues, those with the department will be able to add two new firefighters to the team and new life-saving equipment. Some of the equipment costs thousands.
Firefighters said they will also be able to take part in continuous education.
There has not been an increase in dues within the past 19 years.
Residents of Northeast Benton County are divided into the following three tiers of annual fire service dues:
- $40 a year for residents who have property valued between zero and $99,999.
- $75 a year for residents who have property valued between $100,000 and $299,999.
- $125 a year for residents who have property valued at $300,000 or more.
NEBCO Fire-EMS asked residents to approve raising $40 dues to $84, $75 to $154 and $125 to $244, however none of the firefighters are paid full or part-time.
“They get a small reimbursement stipend once a year as all volunteer firefighters do for wear and tear on vehicles and use of cell phones,” Taylor said.
Fire Chief Rob Taylor said current fire dues generate $162,000-165,000 annually.
The department has served the community for 41 years.