Supervisors VFD Controversy Latest

"Destructive" is how some describe a proposal from three Lauderdale County supervisors to eliminate the recruitment coordinator position from the county's Volunteer Fire Service.

"There are times when we are short during the week,"says Lauderdale Volunteer Firefighter, Laura Dickens. "We have volunteers and they work during the day; when we are short a driver for an engine or a tanker, and that man right there, Mr. Keith Reed, comes out and he assist us. What you all are doing is destructive to your community!"

Dickens was joined by other volunteer firefighters during the supervisors' meeting Monday. The group has previously threatened to protest a three-to-two agreement by supervisors to eliminate the recruitment coordinator position.

Supervisors Hank Florey and Wayman Newell say that the decision is not personal, but necessary due to limited funds.

"Three years ago we received a grant for this particular slot,"says Florey. "After three years the county had to pick up the tab. If we accepted it now, it would entail a tax increase because we don't have the money for the slot. It would cause a tax increase, and we're just not in favor of that."

"We're just looking to try to find some money to help everybody," says Newell.

Vice President of the board Kyle Rutledge supports keeping the position, but says that he also understands about the dilemma of limited funds.

"Each fire volunteer, for each call they get they get $5 per call, and that grant is ending, but we would like to keep that funding for that grant going for the volunteers," says Rutledge. "So, that's being added into the budget."

Supporters of Reed say they are committed to their cause. In fact, they say if the position that he holds is eliminated, they're going to take to the streets in front of Lauderdale County's courthouse. Supervisors say they are hopeful that this matter will not result in a protest.

"I always try to remain optimistic on anything," says board president, Supervisor Josh Todd. "So, in this situation I'm remaining optimistic. I'm hoping that we can convince the rest of the board to go along with Keith."

A final decision on this proposal is yet to be made. That will happen when supervisors vote on the official budget for next year. That vote must take place prior to the start of the new fiscal year on October 1st.