In the community

Vale proposes fee to bolster fire department

Jess Tolman, the chief of the Vale Fire and Ambulance, says a survey showed support for a fee to support the community’s fire service. (The Enterprise/FILE)

VALE -– Homeowners in Vale would pay $10 a month to bolster fire protection under a proposal being crafted by Vale city officials. Businesses would be charged $35 a month.

The proposed fee follows a survey conducted by the Vale Fire Department that showed strong support for such a fee to add fire gear and staffing to the local agency.

“The numbers were really positive,” said Fire Chief Jess Tolman. “I’m extremely encouraged.”

A city ordinance creating the fee is being drafted for the Vale City Council and Tolman expects a public hearing once the council gets the ordinance.

He has made the case that the fire agency needs to replace an aging ladder truck and add staffing to adequately protect Vale.

Of the 255 survey responses, 131 said they would be willing to pay $35 month and another 78 said they would pay $25 a month dedicated to the fire agency.

Of those, 201 said they would want the money to be used for new apparatus and 169 supported round-the-clock fire staffing.

Here are the elements of proposal:

• Homeowners would pay $10 a month in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The fee would go to $15 the following year, $20 the year after that, and then remain steady.

• Businesses would be charged based on water usage, and modest users would pay $35 a month with no increases scheduled.

• Businesses using more water would be assessed $20 per month per unit of water used, capped at $100 a month.

Tolman estimates the fee would raise $124,000 the first year and $170,000 in the second year.

“It’s going to be huge for us,” Tolman said.