Advance seeks fire tax district

Published 9:14 am Thursday, July 5, 2018

The need for new equipment and additional personnel, as well as dwindling allotments from the county, prompted the Advance Fire Department board to craft a petition that may result in a fire tax.

Brian Parrish, a volunteer firefighter, spokesperson for the board and chair of the committee for the tax district, said the petition, with signatures from more than 1,300 residents, would ask commissioners to place on the November ballot a vote asking Advance residents to pay a fire tax. A “yes” vote would not necessarily mean an increase in a tax bill, however.

Chief Rodney Miller said the county already levies a tax for fire service of $.04 per $100 valuation; his intention is that rate would remain the same. A yes vote would simply mean the tax collected would be for that district only and would not be able to be used for anything except fire protection.

“The rate in surrounding counties is $.07 but our intention is to stay at $.04. I can’t say that wouldn’t go up; that’s something I can’t predict because it depends on what the county allots to us.

“Every year the county is cutting my budget. We are one of three departments in the county that took hits, but our department took the biggest one. Davie and one other county are the only ones in North Carolina that are behind on collecting the tax.”

The state has a cap on fire tax of $.15 per $100 valuation.

If approved, the fire tax monies collected could be used to purchase new equipment and hire employees, such as the ones Miller said he needs for nights and weekends.

“Public safety taxes are going to be the cheapest taxes people pay. On a $200,000 home, that would be $80 per year,” he said.

Only Advance residents, those who own and inhabit a dwelling, would able to vote on the fire tax. Other fire departments in the county are not seeking to collect the tax; it would apply to residents in the Advance protection district only.

Parrish said, “We want to make sure the tax dollars collected in our fire protection district are being used to protect those in our protection district.”

Miller said he expects a resolution asking for the board of elections to certify the signatures to be on the agenda at the July commissioners meeting.

More information about the tax will be provided by the fire department in the coming months, including details of their budget showing where tax dollars are used.