PERRY -- City residents will begin getting bills next month for a new fire protection fee launched Tuesday by City Council.
City Council members voted without dissent, and with Mayor Jimmy Faircloth absent, to create a fire protection district to serve the entire county. Fees start at $10 per month for homes and businesses. Those fees will change as city officials evaluate properties for size and fire risk, but they will be capped at $100 monthly, officials said.
The money is intended to help the city more than double the number of people in its fire department. It has 18 staff members but hopes to add another 21 employees by October to improve protection in the downtown fire station, operate a third fire truck that should be delivered in about a month, and keep operating the citys second station off Houston Lake Road.
Fire Chief Joel Gray said a 2006 study indicated the department should have five stations and staffing to match.
City residents should this month receive a letter describing the fire fee, which City Manager Lee Gilmour compared to the stormwater utility fee, with peoples use of a service matching the cost to provide the service. The fire fee would be included on the regular monthly city bill.
The fire fee has been discussed for several years, though details have changed in recent months.
Separately, no one spoke at a public hearing on the fiscal 2015 budget. City Council members plan to meet at 5 p.m. Monday to consider more details of the budget, which is expected to receive approval June 17. City Council members were presented three budget options but have not selected from them. The budgets either call for tax increases or cuts to city staffing and services.
Also Tuesday, the council substituted a C-3 zoning with several conditions for a property owners rezoning request from R-3 to C-2 at 1211 Houston Lake Drive The council also rejected a rezoning request from a planned unit development to C-2, for a property at 481 Lake Joy Road. Councilman Riley Hunt opposed.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.