Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's the Budget Cuts, Stupid

One overlooked factor in the case of the Tennessee fire department that watched houses burn when owners failed to pay protection subscriptions is the effect of government budget cuts.

In a Kentucky county perhaps not coincidentally on the Tennessee border, that connection is clear-cut.

From the Middlesboro Daily News:

Bell Countians will be asked to consider adding a fire department subscribers fee to their budgets in the new year.

In a notice issued to media on Monday by Assistant Fire Chief David Miracle, the fire department states, in part:

“The Bell County Volunteer Fire Department would like to inform the citizens of Bell County that effective January 1, 2012, the BCVFD will be collecting an annual subscribers fee for the fire department. This is a voluntary fee and is in no way mandatory. The BCVFD will not deny our services to anyone.


Miracle stated that the fire department would like to be funded entirely through a mandatory subscribers fee and claimed that BCVFD representatives had proposed that in Bell County Fiscal Court (BCFC) in the past.

The BCVFD and the BCFC have been in and out of court for five years due to changes in county ordinances that now requires the BCVFD to submit receipts for reimbursement, rather than receiving an allotted amount each year with little accountability.

The BCVFD collectively says that they are not owned by the county and have no indebtedness to tax payers.

“We own it,” Miracle said, “We are a 5013c non-profit corporation.” He also likened the BCVFD to a paving company that would be used contractually by the county.

Bell County Judge Executive Albey Brock disagrees, as he has many times in this long-running argument. “Since the fire department’s inception, the taxpayer has given them over $6 million,” Brock said. “They are a non-profit group established to provide service.”

Since the BCVFD has closed two of the nine stations (Colmar and Arjay stations were closed mid-December) in the county, Brock says funding will be halted. “At this point, we can’t fund them, if they’re closing stations.”

So it's a political fight. But it's a political fight that wouldn't happen if Bell County weren't strapped by state budget cuts, caused by federal budget cuts, caused by deficit hysteria and an economic meltdown caused by banksters on Wall Street.


Carol Ann said...

So, let's see. Mandatory subscription fee. Hmmm. Smells like taxes to me.

A 501(3c) corporation is a non-profit, and it is not usually considered to be "in business" but established to provide some social benefit, hence the tax exemption. I do believe they can't discriminate based on who pays, either. They can solicit funds through begging, but can't relate the benefits of the funding to the donors only.

Danp said...

Who is the VFD expecting to "mandate" the subscription fee? I might liken them to a paving company, too - if the paving company is owned by Tony Soprano.

c u n d gulag said...

This is what happens when you depend on tax-payer funded Socialistic Big Government!

Let the free markets decide - allow for competition!

Allow private companies to open competing Fire Departments. Leave the choice up to the consumers, and not in the hands of Government bureaucrat's.

You, the consumer, whose house is being consumed by fire, can have a choice of which one to call, depending on the terms you can negotiate over the phone as your house is burning. Get the best rate, or pay more the closest one.
You decide!

Or, call 911, and have all of them show up, and you can negotiate rates right then and there, where you and the companies can do a quick cost-to-benefit ration, and an ROI.

Or you could have them duke-it-out amongst themselves, on the modern Darwinian principle that the fittest company will survive the fight, and be the best one to save what's left of your home. If they're not too tired, that is.

This was once the system in NY City back in the early-mid 18th Century.
I'm not saying it worked well, or at all really, but it WAS the system.
And a free market one at that!

Yellow Dog said...

gulag: I'd forgotten about the NYC free-for-all (so to speak.)

And wasn't it one reason behind Ben Franklin organizing volunteer fire companies in Philadelphia?

There's a bigger story here.

Tom Hilton said...

As I recall, the NYC fire companies would sabotage each other's equipment to gain a competitive edge. The less scrupulous ones would set fires themselves, which they would (miraculously!) be on hand to extinguish.

Back to the future!

c u n d gulag said...

Yes to you both!

And Tom, 'free marketers' should be able to justify this as the firement taking "Good Ol' American Initiative!"

Just as long as they take their initiative elsewhere...

Dark Avenger said...

The city of Boston, Massachusetts, established America's first publicly funded paid fire department in 1679.[7] Fire insurance made its debut in the American colonies in South Carolina in 1736, but it was Benjamin Franklin who imported the London model of insurance. He established the colonies' first fire insurance company in Philadelphia named the Philadelphia Contributionship,[4] as well as its associated Union Volunteer Fire Company.[8]