Area property owners may notice an optional addition to their county property tax bill this year, as the fire district membership fee is implemented for the first time.
The membership cost of $40 per year will be automatically placed on county property tax bills in order to provide funding for local fire departments. The small membership cost allows property owners to avoid any larger expenses incurred if an emergency situation happens on their property.
Membership fees will not be applied to certain properties, such as those owned by churches, cemeteries, non-profit civic organizations, fire departments or government institutions.
Anyone who owns more than four properties may request that any fees on fifth or subsequent properties be refunded, for a total membership fee of no more than $160 for all properties owned by the individual.
Anyone who wishes may opt out of the membership fee, but should be aware that those who choose to do so will face service fees for any fire or other non-medical incidents which occur on their property and require firefighters to respond. Service fees will be a minimum of $500 to $1,000, depending on the type of facility that is located on the property.
In order to opt out, taxpayers are required to fill out a form, which is available at the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office located at 48 Public Square in Leitchfield.
A new form will be required each year that a property owner wishes to opt out of the membership fee.
The Grayson County Fiscal Court recently passed Ordinance # 301.01, which made way for the addition of the membership fee on property tax bills as a result of a lengthy rallying process by local fire chiefs who expressed their desperate need for funding.
Local departments must maintain a fleet of emergency vehicles in addition to providing training and gear for each of their firefighters. The funds raised through this initiative will go toward those necessities, and as area fire chief Cody Weiss explained to the court, will end up helping homeowners who may see their home insurance rates drop as these first responders are able to improve the quality of their departments with these funds.
Similar measures have already been enacted with positive results in many surrounding counties.
Chaffins said of the fee, “This is not a tax, but a membership/subscriber fee and anyone with questions may call the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office or their local fire chief during normal business hours at 270-259-3024.”
Reach Brittany Wise at 270-259-9622 ext. 2014.