Fire Service Agreement Solution
Recently this has come to the forefront as a major issue. The ultimate solution should be that each property receives the best, most responsive fire protection and that everyone, municipal residents and county residents, should equally pay for the cost based on a fair evaluation of the cost of service. This is my position as Salisbury Taxpayer and Wicomico County Taxpayer.
The best and most equitable solution would be for a “Fire Tax District” to be created. Simply put we would take those properties within the boundaries of a Municipal Fire Service and use a formula based on square footage, number of floors, rooms, occupancy capacity and one or two other standard value estimating items to determine Fire Protection Cost to each property.
The other part we need to discuss is that each property, under the Fire Services Agreement, should be assigned to the geographically closest Fire Department.
This formula would likely have to see approval through the Maryland State General Assembly and adjustments made through the State Tax Assessment Office where the Fire Protection Cost would need to be added to the Tax Bill of those properties as specific line item. Each Municipality should create an Enterprise Fund for their Fire Departments where all funds are earmarked for the Fire Departments. This would not affect the Revenue Cap and the offset for Municipal residents can be made on their County or Municipal Tax.
This creates a balanced and fair approach to the situation. Those who receive Fire Protection from a municipality have a line item on their tax bill. Municipal Residents will no longer have to subsidize the cost of Fire Protection for County Residents. Furthermore, as a citizen I believe this is not a partisan issue and my expectation is that elected officials must professionally and responsibly negotiate a fair and equitable solution.
Salisbury, MD Resident