The city of Midway will not join in a countywide plan for fire protection and rescue service, the city council unanimously agreed Monday.
“We have to come up with a plan on our own.” Mayor Levern Clancy Jr. said.
Liberty County commissioners have been working on professional fire protection for the unincorporated area and the smaller municipalities for eight years. The plan, which is still being adjusted, calls for 31 full time firefighters to provide 24/7 coverage at a cost of $5.6 million for the first year.
The county proposal is for funding the equipment, buildings and operations with some Special Local Option Sales Tax money, and – most controversially – a fire and rescue fee to be assessed on all property to be protected.
The draft fee plan includes nine tiers ranging from $40 annually for mobile homes to $15,000 for industries with more than 100,000 square feet. Most of the projected fee revenue would come from two of the tiers: Residential property of less than 2,000 square feet to be assessed $150 and commercial buildings less than 4,000 to be assessed $4,500.
At the end of Monday’s meeting Clancy said, “I will not leave Midway without fire protection.” Midway has about 15 fully qualified volunteer firefighters but many of them have jobs they cannot leave for fire calls. Daytime working hours are the most difficult to cover and the county has hired some temporary professional firefighters to bridge that gap. Midway can also call on other fire departments under mutual aid agreements.
In informal discussions Midway officials have said if residents and businesses were going to be charged a fire fee, Midway should impose that fee and use the funds to create a Midway Fire Department.
In other business, the council unanimously adopted a resolution opposing drilling and air gun blasting off the Georgia coast. The resolution’s passage brought applause from people at the meeting.
The council agreed to a Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission recommendation in granting a business license to Coastal Drug Co. which has purchased the former Coastal Discount Pharmacy at 204 Butler Street. Pharmacist Pete Nagel introduced himself and said the new business offers free delivery and competitive prices.
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