The Bell County Fiscal Court and the Bell County Volunteer Fire Department (BCVFD) are in the process of scheduling a meeting to discuss a framework proposal, according to judge-executive Albey Brock.
No date has been scheduled at this point, said Brock.
When the meeting takes place, the fiscal court will be giving the BCVFD a framework proposal, asking that all fire stations that have been closed be reopened as soon as practical.
The BCVFD must also agree not to dispose of fire equipment, including fire trucks and other vehicles, or transfer fire equipment to other non-profit corporations.
The proposal request that “in the instance the BCVFD determines that it cannot operate certain fire equipment, including fire trucks and other vehicles, the fire stations and fire equipment should be transferred to the fiscal for the use and operation on behalf of the citizens of Bell County.”
Within the framework proposal, it states the BCVFD must acknowledge that as a volunteer fire department — certified by the Kentucky Fire Commission under Kentucky Revised Statute, Section 75 — it performs a governmental function making it a government agent under Kentucky law.
Another issue the proposal addresses involves the billing of Bell County citizens. The proposal ask the BCVFD to “cease and desist” from the practice of billing citizens for services related to accident and fire response calls.
The proposal states all receipts and invoices submitted for reimbursement by the BCVFD must be presented to the Bell County Fiscal Court within 60 days for consideration, and any major capital expenditure exceeding $20,000 must be pre-approved by fiscal court.
“In order for the BCVFD to receive reimbursement from the Bell County Fiscal Court, full financial disclosure by the BCVFD regarding the use of tax dollars will be required (including periodic audits),” states the proposal.
If the BCVFD agrees to this proposal, the fiscal court will fund the BCVFD by reimbursing the BCVFD for all legal and legitimate costs associated with the operation of the fire stations and for providing fire suppression services to the entire county.
Brock said the proposal is just a framework proposal, meaning that the fiscal court or BCVFD can propose additions to the proposal.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 208.