On Saturday, Feb. 1, St. Albans residents will be able to vote on the longtime continuation of a special levy to support the city’s fire department — with other voting options becoming available before then.
Funds from the special levy are used for supplies, wages and other expenses of the St. Albans Fire Department.
SAFD Lt. and Fire Inspector Chris Collins emphasized that the levy is not a new one, but a continuation of the one that has been in effect in the city since 1951.
“The receipts of this levy provide over one-third of the amount required to operate the St. Albans Fire Department per year,” Collins explained.
“The St. Albans Fire Department has become an ISO Class 2 department, placing our department in the top 4% of fire departments nationwide,” SAFD Chief Lance Carney said. “Along with response times of two to five minutes to emergency types ranging from medical emergencies, fires, automobile crashes, rescues, water and railway emergencies, hazardous materials incidents, and public service incidents, just to name a few, we also work proactively in emergency prevention by holding safety presentations for hundreds of city citizens every year.
“These presentations range from fire safety, fire and fall prevention, public CPR/First Aid, Stop The Bleed Classes, free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and many more programs aimed at preventing tragedies through proactive safety education and awareness,” Carney said.
“Our department is also responsible for all fire inspections, code enforcement and fire investigations in the city,” the fire chief added.
Early, in-person voting for the 2020 Special Fire Levy Election will get underway on Friday, Jan. 17 at the St. Albans City Clerk’s office at 1499 MacCorkle Ave. in St. Albans. Early voting can be made during regular business hours — from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday — through Wednesday, Jan. 29.
Saturday early voting in person will be conducted from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Jan. 18 and Jan. 25, in accordance with the West Virginia State Code.
Applications are also available for any person qualified to vote an absentee voter ballot by mail for the levy election. The completed application must be in the City Clerk office by Monday, Jan. 27, to obtain an absentee voter’s ballot by mail.
St. Albans’ last fire levy election took place in 2015, passing with a 97.2% approval rating in the 1,255 votes cast.
The excess fire levy is based on assessed value of property, cents per $100 of valuation:
• $6.25: Class I
• $12.50: Class II
• $25: Class III and IV.
The estimated revenue from the fire service levy for the current fiscal year is $747,070, according to the St. Albans City Clerk’s office.
St. Albans Mayor Scott James reiterated that residents will not see any rise in their contribution by approving the levy.
“Their rates will not go up; it’s the same thing that’s been in effect for years,” he said. “There’ll be no more money going out of their income than what’s been going out in the past.
“This is very important to maintain the quality of the fire department St. Albans has. It has a Class 2 rating, which only a few fire departments in the state have, so we consider the St. Albans Fire Department one of the finest in the state,” James said.
The mayor also commended the department for its civic presence and outreach.
“They’re constantly giving tours of the fire department to school classes,” James said. “It’s very important to create and to maintain that relationship with the community.”
James said the SAFD serves a population of more than 10,000 residents.