July 9, 2014 — Tuesday’s special meeting of Olive Hill City Council again focused on the budget of the city’s volunteer fire department.
Fire Chief Wes Gilliam addressed the Council about his department’s dwindling budget and the domino effect it could have on those in the area.
“We’ve gone as far as we can go on the limited budget we have. We could sell off some things and reduce our services. But if we do that, the city’s ISO rating will go up and home insurance rates will skyrocket,” said Gilliam.
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating is a system used for determining the cost of fire insurance in a given community. Communities are rates on a scale from one to ten with one being the best rating and ten being the worst.
One of the major factors considered in determining the ISO rating is the variety of equipment, services and personnel available to respond to a fire event.
Olive Hill residents in the city limits and those in the surrounding areas that are within 1,000 feet of a hydrant have an ISO rating of seven.
Gilliam believes that figure will increase if he has to scale back services in his budget, driving insurance rates up with it.
“With the budget we have right now, I’m won’t be able to maintain our trucks this year. Our air conditioning isn’t even working because I’ve had to choose between fixing it and keeping our trucks going,” said Gilliam.
The proposed budget allocates $71,000 for the fire department, which is $39,600 short of the $110,600 Gilliam has requested.
Council discussed billing for each time the fire department is called out as a potential means to raise revenue.
“That could be a long-term solution but we need a fix right now,” said Council member Allen Stapleton.