By Jeff Shultz
A group of Garvin County Fire Chiefs is gearing up for a different kind of blaze as they set their sights on promoting a one-quarter cent sales tax election scheduled for March 6.
“There’s some wrong information on this sales tax being put out there and we want to dispel those rumors right now,” Elmore City Fire Chief Eddie Stewart told the News Star Tuesday.
Members of the Garvin County Fire Chiefs Association (GCFA) met last October and voted to request the one-quarter cent countywide sales tax be put on the upcoming March 6 ballot.
The permanent sales tax would be earmarked for fire fighting equipment for all 12 of the county’s fire departments.
Stewart, who is the chairman of the GCFA, said some of the rumors floating around include a misconception of just how much tax would be charged on sales taxable goods to how many fire departments in the area would benefit from the sales tax.
“One report said the tax would be 10 percent on items bought in the county. That’s just not true,” he said.
“This is a one-quarter of a cent sales tax proposal. That means $100 of taxable goods bought in the county would only be taxed 25 cents by the firefighters tax,” he said.
Another rumor, he said, was that one fire department in the county would benefit from the sales tax.
“All 12 county fire departments – from the largest to the smallest – will equally share in the revenue generated by this tax, if it is passed,” Stewart said.
Stewart said if the sales tax is approved, 96 percent of the funds gathered by the tax would be split equally between all 12 fire departments in the county with four percent going to the Garvin County Emergency Management Department for administrative costs.
The reason the tax is being sought is due to depleted firefighting equipment and upcoming mandates by the state and federal governments.
“We’re all struggling and if this sales tax is approved by the voters it will bring needed funds to all of our departments,” said Stewart.
If approved by the voters, the tax would generate an estimate $750,000 per year.
The tax funds would go toward the purchase of fire fighting gear, new tanker trucks and continued maintenance on current equipment.
“Federal and state regulations will soon make it impossible for our fire departments to purchase the required safety gear for our firefighters if we don’t have the money from this tax,” Stewart said.