I would like to share some news with you and request your support. If you attended our West Pulaski Fire Department Annual Meeting a few months ago in October, you probably heard me announce that West Pulaski Fire had responded to a record number of emergency and assistance calls. We experienced a 20% increase in responses over the previous year. This indicates a growing trend we have seen over the past few years showing we are busier than ever serving the communities where we live.
You also may have heard me mention that with many factors included, it has been a significant challenge for our department to operate effectively within our current budget. Our fire department has resisted an increase in fire dues for as long as possible but the current economics of inflation, high fuel prices, growth in our service area and many unique elements of fire and rescue service providers make it necessary to address the financial needs of our fire district.
West Pulaski Fire Department has operated without dues increase for over 30 years but we feel it is necessary to increase the fire dues for residential and commercial properties at this time. WPFD is planning to hold a special election to raise our annual fire service fee (dues) and I hope to have your support. I am going to share the reasons why this is necessary.
Our yearly fire dues are paid per parcel with a structure on it, or what is called “improved land”. The cost is currently $50 per year for residential properties and $100 for commercial properties. It has been at this rate since 1992. And much has changed in 31 years.
• Inflation has deteriorated the value of that $50 we collect while prices for everything have steadily gone up.
• The number of calls for service has steadily risen each year. Our total for 2022 (1206) was an amazing increase of 20% over 2021.
• We are currently operating from current revenue AND reserve funds, having to pull from savings to balance our budget. That is obviously not a sustainable option in the long term.
• We continue to require substantial funds to properly maintain our vehicle fleet, acquire or replace PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and complete fire station maintenance that sometimes has to be deferred. Our current budget makes it very difficult to use our reserve funds to consider purchasing replacement vehicles as frequently as needed.
I hope these facts help paint a better picture of why a dues increase is necessary.
About the increase we are requesting:
We are seeking an increase from $50 to $95 for residential properties and an increase from $100 to $180 per year for commercial properties.
Public Meetings for Information and Comment:
We are hosting 3 public meetings to answer your questions and to allow comments. Please feel free to join us at any of these meetings later in April and May:
Meeting 1: Thursday, April 27th at 6:30 PM
Ferndale Extension Center Building
27021 Kanis Road Little Rock, AR 72223
Meeting 2: Tuesday, May 16th at 6:30 PM
West Pulaski Fire Station 4
35911 Hwy 300 Bigelow, AR 72016
Meeting 3: Thursday, May 25th at 6:30 PM
Crossroads New Baptist Church 18900 Congo Ferndale Rd, Little Rock, A 72210
Election Day and Location:
The election will be held on Tuesday, May 30th, 2023 at the Ferndale Extension Center Building from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM
The address is 27021 Kanis Road, Little Rock, Arkansas 72223
Our ability to continue to provide our best level of emergency services depends on this increase in funding. We continue to invest in serving you and truly hope you will continue to support us!
Scott Joblin, Fire Chief
West Pulaski Fire Department