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Rehoboth firefighters ask for help

May 21, 2018

The Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company is seeking a permanent funding source.

Speaking at the city commissioners’ April 5 meeting, Warren Jones, spokesman for the company, said it is asking for one-half of 1 percent added to building permit fees to go toward the company’s capital funding needs.

Jones said the money would be kept in a separate account and used for capital expenses only. He said the company is subject to audits by the state and Sussex County; the results of those audits would be passed on to the city commissioners as proof of what the money is spent on. Jones said the company does not have the staff or the time to undertake a fundraising drive for its capital needs.

“We don’t have the people to do those kinds of things,” he said.

Jones said recruitment is also more difficult than before. He said retaining people has required the company to spend resources trying to keep firefighters in the fold. Jones said with a permanent funding source, the company can offset those expenses.

Jones said the company hopes to raise $100,000 a year from the arrangement, on top of the $30,000 the city already gives the department annually. He said the company recently purchased a new ambulance for $200,000, an item that has been on their radar for a while.

Jones said the company needs to repair the floor and the restroom of Station 1 in downtown Rehoboth, fixes that could cost $97,000, in addition to upgrades to the vehicle fleet.

The commissioners are supportive of the company’s request, although Mayor Paul Kuhns said they could not act on it until next year’s budget.

Commissioner Stan Mills said while he is supportive of raising funds, he questioned whether the city could look at surcharges on other taxable revenue, such as property taxes, to find a way for all citizens to help pay for the company’s services, not just those who are getting building permits.

“This is a no-brainer,” Commissioner Kathy McGuiness said.