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Fiscal Court Approves New Funding Model for Volunteer Fire Stations

A new funding model is expected to generate sufficient revenue to support local volunteer fire departments.

Fiscal Court will remove membership dues from property tax bills and implement an additional 1.1 percent insurance premium license fee, effective July 1, 2024.

The fee will be collected from insurance companies on policies for certain categories, including fire, casualty liability, vehicle, inland marine, and health.

All categories represent property or events that are serviced by the fire system, whether it be a structure fire, car wreck, health emergency, boat rescue, etc.

These categories are assessed currently as funding for the county’s paid fire department.  Fiscal Court in the 1970s saw it as an equitable and natural revenue stream for the service considering what is covered and protected.

With the additional 1.1 percent, the total insurance premium license fee will be 6 percent in Daviess County, outside the corporate limits of Owensboro and Whitesville.

Judge/Executive Charlie Castlen said the repeal and replace plan will address a shortfall in funding at many departments.

“The membership dues could only be spent in the district where they were assessed,” Castlen said.

The dues were fixed with no natural growth factor to account for inflation or increased expenses.  For funding to increase, more homes had to be built in the station’s response area.

The result was a shortfall in funding for departments in smaller communities.

“Even if we doubled the dues, all that would happen is the handful of stations that do very well would do extremely well from a financial standpoint, maybe beyond their needs, and the other stations would be left struggling,” Castlen explained.

“We have pledged that we will fund the stations according to levels that they were already being funded and the ones that need additional assistance will receive that,” he concluded.

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