RANDOLPH COUNTY — Residents were on hand for the regular May meeting of Randolph County Board of Commissioners for a public hearing on proposed changes to the structure of the county’s fire districts.

County staff indicated that the current 15-cent cap on the tax rate in Randolph fire districts has proven insufficient to support the needs of some of the county’s fire departments. At the meeting, the board considered moving forward with the abolition of that cap for Climax, Franklinville, Guil-Rand and Westside fire districts. Those four departments are the county’s largest.

Chairman Darrell Frye explained that any potential increase to the cap is not inherently a tax increase. The final decision of what the tax rate in each fire district will be continues to rest with the county board of commissioners, which can approve or deny recommendations by the fire departments during the budget process.

“It’s not a tax increase,” Frye said. “We’re just trying to bring every [department] under the same rules relative to the structure of the fire districts.”

Several residents expressed concern with the $1.50 cap, a tenfold increase from where the current cap sits. Commissioners explained, however, that the $1.50 mark is a state figure on which the county is basing the adjustment.

“There is a number set by the state that we cannot exceed,” Haywood said. “All those taxes combined — fire tax, property tax, any taxes that you pay — are rolled into that number, and it cannot go above $1.50. Currently, your property tax is 63.27 [cents per $100 valuation]. Your fire tax where you are is probably approaching 15 cents. The problem is they cannot go to 16 cents unless we change this structure.

“I can assure you — none of these fire departments are going to come in here asking for 20 cents.”

No action could be taken at the May meeting. The county must post a notice in a local newspaper before next month’s regular meeting stating the intent to hold a second public hearing at the June meeting on the same issue.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

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