Fire chief supports sales tax

Published 10:21 am Thursday, October 25, 2018

Michael Galliher knows about volunteer fire departments.

He grew up watching his dad in the Fork department, and joined Cornatzer-Dulin as a teenager because Fork didn’t have a junior firefighter program.

Now, he’s chief at Cornatzer-Dulin and president of the Davie Firefighters Associaiton.

And he’s a big supporter of the .25 cent sales and use tax on the ballot this November. Without that extra support, an estimated minimum of $40,000 for each department in the county, most would struggle even more than they are now.

The tax will not apply to unprepared food, gasoline, medicine and some other purchases. Proponents say it is more fair than a property tax, which could be next if the measure isn’t approved by voters.

“Me and Renee (his wife, also a firefighter) talked, and I talked to a couple of other chiefs and we decided we need to go talk to them (County Manager John Eller and board chair, Terry Renegar),” he said. They agreed, and put the measure on the ballot.

“There’s no fire department in this county that can do this on their own,” Galliher said. All are suffering from rising costs, increased mandatory training and equipment, and a dwindling supply of volunteers ready to show up no matter what the need.

“We need additional paid firefighters and bring up to date the fleet of trucks,” he said. Although a fire truck may be in workable condition, when it reaches a certain age, it no longer counts when the state figures insurance ratings – which affect what people pay for homeowner’s insurance.

He undestands the distrust of politics, but the county fire chiefs are mostly supporting the effort. County officials talked to the chiefs. “I think it opened their eyes on how outdated the county system is. The fire association tries to stay away from politics, but somebody has to stand up for what we need – what we believe in.

“I think they’re (county) trying to do it the right way,” Galliher said.