Public invited to meetings to learn more
Benton County Fire District 4 invites the public to two upcoming meetings to discuss the 2023 budget. These meetings will be held at 6 p.m. on October 20 and November 3. Meeting access information can be found on the fire district’s website at www.bcfd4.org.
“We work for our taxpayers and, as such, we want them to know what improvements we are planning to save lives and property,” said Fire Chief Paul Carlyle. “We are able to make improvements thanks to the support of our community and we are grateful.”
The meeting in October will be an introduction of the 2023 Budget by Chief Paul Carlyle. The meeting in November is designed for the Board of Fire Commissioners to deliberate on budget items and vote whether or not to pass it.
Voters in Benton County Fire District 4 approved an EMS levy lid lift in August. EMS accounted for 62% of all calls the agency received last year. Overall, call volumes were up 22% in 2021 compared to the year before.
Funding from the levy lid lift will be used to hire three additional firefighter/paramedics and emergency medical technicians to respond to emergency calls. This will put another medical unit in service and aid in responding to overlapping calls, which are increasing.
Other improvements in the budget include firefighter training, needed training props and replacing a 25-year-old fire engine that has reached the end of its usable life. Thanks to community support, the fire district is able to pay cash for the engine as opposed to financing it which would cost taxpayers more due to interest payments.
Benton County Fire District 4 is primarily funded by a fire levy and another levy for emergency medical service. The combined total is capped at $2 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Levy rates fall as property values rise to limit the fire district to roughly the same amount of revenue per year plus any voter approved increase. At times, the fire district asks voters to return a levy to its original amount. These “lid lifts” help the fire district keep up with rising call volumes and increasing costs to provide service.