Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 18, 2014

Fire tax funds get some specifics

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Just to avoid any confusion the specifics are now down on paper for most purchases made by fire departments as part of a Garvin County sales tax.

This tax is a quarter cent measure passed a couple of years ago to provide a permanent source of revenue to each of the fire agencies in the county with most of those small and manned only by volunteers.

A couple of county commissioners passed a resolution Monday to formalize the policies and procedures for those times when the firefighters use the sales tax monies to make a purchase.

Giving their OK to the measure were Stan Spivey of District 1 and Johnny Mann of District 3.

“We needed to clarify the procedure,” Mann said.

“This resolution is to clarify purchases made by fire departments with money from this sales tax,” he said.

“We wanted to set a standard on how to make these purchases.”

The action, along with some discussion, came during the commissioners’ regular weekly meeting at the county courthouse.

It was all related to some requests that had come under scrutiny because the proposed purchases didn’t directly relate to the act of fighting fires.

As a result, the two commissioners approved a resolution that clearly lays out the procedures to be used when any fire department in the county wants to use its portion of the sales tax money to make a purchase.

“We need to be good stewards of this money,” Mann said.

“Money from this sales tax is for anything that pertains to fire fighting,” he said.

“It can be for hoses, boots, bunker gear, a building to house fire trucks. Anything that pertains to fighting a fire.”

Adding to that point was Assistant District Attorney Carol Dillingham, who said the tax money can only be used for the “actual tasks associated with training and fighting fires.”

Questions did come about using tax monies to make such purchases as training equipment at fire stations.

That, Dillingham said, is OK if the department has a formal policy in place where firefighters are tested on a regular basis on their physical condition.

Both commissioners made it clear no changes were made as they were simply formalizing the process of making a purchase and getting those procedures down on paper.

The policy calls for any funding requests from fire departments to be submitted to Bud Ramming, who is Garvin County’s emergency management director.

Ramming will then present “appropriate” requests to the commissioners for their review and approval, which is needed before a purchase order can be issued.

Daily expenditures for fire departments, such as tires, fuel, utilities and parts, will not need prior approval from commissioners.

One purchase not questioned came Monday for the Wynnewood Fire Department.

The department is using $50,000 from its sales tax revenues to put down on a lease-purchase agreement for a rescue fire pumper truck.

The remainder is to be financed as the total cost of the truck is around $349,000.