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Extinguishing funding woes
County looks to give $6,000 each year to fire departments
Volunteer firefighters in the Dibrell area battle an industrial blaze in this file photo. The county is working to double fire department funding from $3,000 to $6,000 each year.

A push to secure additional funding for Warren County’s volunteer fire departments could be paying off, but at the expense of other local organizations.
The county Procedures and Rules Committee met to consider nonprofit budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year and voted to double the amount given to each volunteer fire department, from $3,000 to $6,000 each.
“I think we should help them out a little more,” said Commissioner Teddy Boyd. “I’ve got a bill right here from Harrison Ferry to repair their truck where they ran mutual aid to Van Buren County.”
Commissioner Gary Prater urged caution.
“If we started giving the volunteer fire departments everything they ask for then they will basically quit having any kind of fundraisers,” he said. “Anywhere I’ve ever been, every county, everybody has fundraisers and they raise money.”
Boyd added, “We’ve been giving them $3,000 each for the last six or seven years.”
According to County Executive Herschel Wells, the county upped its contribution in 2007 or 2008 to $3,000 each, which means it has been approximately 10 years since an increase.
Harrison Ferry’s Fire Chief Lynn Curtis reminded committee members that Warren County Rescue Squad receives approximately $25,000 from the county annually, while the seven fire department split $21,000.
“They go on four calls a year,” said Curtis of the Rescue Squad. “Collins River (Volunteer Fire Department) went on 105 calls last year on their $3,000 budget. All I want is a level playing field.”
As part of the county’s 2017-18 fiscal year budget, changes can still be made at any time throughout the process prior to full Warren County Commission approval.
Members also voted that the following organizations be given an increase from what was given last year: Warren County Emergency Food Back from $2,500 to $3,000; Meals on Wheels from $2,500 to $3,000; and Caring Heats United from $500 to $1,000.
Members voted to decrease the following donations from what they received the previous year:
• American Red Cross $7,000, down $1,000
• CHEER Mental Health $4,000, down $1,000
• Books from Birth $2,000, down $1,000
• Heritage Alliance $1,000, down $250
• Main Street McMinnville $1,000, down $250
• Chamber of Commerce $4,000, down $1,000
• Warren County A&L Fair $7,000, down $500
• Young Men United $3,000, down $1,000
Citizens for Progress was removed from consideration. The organization, given $2,000 last year, began in 2007 and provides scholarship aid to graduating high school seniors to attend tuition-free for two years at either Motlow or TCAT in McMinnville. The state, with TN Promise, now covers a large part of what CFP addressed. CFP now focuses on other scholarship needs, such as nontraditional students.
Warren County A&L Fair was at $5,000, down $2,500 from last year. The funds for CFP were added to the fair’s donation.
Commissioner Gary Prater motioned to strike the donation to CFP due to the state indicating that nontraditional students will be included in TN Promise.
“If I was going to do anything, I would take the Citizens for Progress. I would take that plum away,” said Prater. “I made that motion. I think after July, that opportunity for them to go back to school will be there, according to Gov. Haslam.”
The motion passed unanimously.
Remaining unchanged from the previous year’s donation: Families in Crisis $1,000, Warren County Senior Center $7,500, Pacesetters $2,000, Sister Cities $5,000, and RSVP $500.
Financial woes of Harrison Ferry Volunteer Fire Department spurred commissioner’s consideration in giving more to those departments.