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Section A: General News


Stockdale fire chief’s pay remains burning question




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Wilson County News
July 2, 2014 | 1,865 views | Post a comment

The Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) budget will include a $1,000-per-month “stipend” for the department’s chief.

Fire Chief Edwin Baker told the Stockdale City Council June 24 during a budget workshop that the department’s ladies auxiliary will be the source of the funds. However, allowing for the stipend may impact other things the auxiliary helps fund, such as equipment, Baker said.

The VFD presents its budget annually during the Stockdale City Council’s budget process. The city currently contributes $10,000 per year to the fire department, which provides fire protection services within the city limits.

Baker said 40 percent of the calls for his department are within the city limits, with the remaining 60 percent elsewhere in the fire department’s coverage area.

Wilson County contributes $27,000 to the department, Baker said. Of this, $21,000 is allocated to the Stockdale VFD and $6,000 to the Stockdale-Longhorn VFD. The combined funds reflect the largest contribution from the county to a fire department.

The Longhorn VFD combined with the Stockdale department in August 2008; at that time, Stockdale VFD gained ownership of the Longhorn vehicles.

Discussion also included how invaluable the vehicles and equipment at the Longhorn station are for providing protection in wildland fire situations. The Longhorn station also provides an additional base for fighting fires, Baker said, with water storage and other benefits.

Should the Longhorn station permanently close for any reason, ownership of the land and building would revert to the original private owner, Baker added.

Providing fire protection continues to be a challenge, with only a handful of firefighters residing in Stockdale. The others live outside the city, Baker said. With many traveling outside the area for work, it’s difficult to muster crews at times.

“All little departments don’t have volunteers available during the day to fight fires,” he added.

As the discussion waned, the city council briefly revisited the idea of the city providing funds for the fire chief’s stipend, possibly contributing $12,000 for this, in addition to the $10,000 contribution already budgeted.

Councilman Becky Adams opposed this, saying to do so would make the chief a city employee.

Baker suggested instead that the fire department’s budget should reflect a $15,000 donation from the Ladies Auxiliary, to allow for the stipend, reiterating his stance from a previous council meeting.

“I do not want to be an employee [of the city],” he said.

City Manager Banks Akin will approach the Wilson County commissioners for more funds.
 

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