MAYNARDVILLE (WATE) - After news that a possible 20% budget cut could soon be passed by county commissioners, volunteer fire departments in Union County are worried about making ends meet.
Four departments are at stake and while they usually get $20,000 per year, a cut would leave them with only $16,000 - an amount they say isn't enough to provide adequate fire protection.
The volunteer departments are struggling to understand why a 20% budget cut would be a good idea. Northeast Union Volunteer Fire Department is worried about their future.
"We cut everything to the bone to begin with. We spend the least amount of money possible. It could actually close the doors," said Gordon Sartain, the fire chief at Northeast Union.
With yearly bills for insurance and truck payments, gas and maintenance, they're finding it hard to get by as it is.
"A $4,000 cut will just devastate us because that will just be maybe $1,000 or $2,000 over what our insurance and truck payment costs us per year," Chief Sartain said.
Officials with Paulette Volunteer Fire Department agree.
"It's not enough to operate. We're already pinching it with our budget as it is now on $20,000 plus relying only on donations," explained Daniel Rice, the fire chief at Paulette.
Chief Rice says if their budget gets cut, it will hurt the community.
"We'll have to cut services. We provide more than fire protection. We run medical response. We run on car accidents. We have extrication equipment as well," he said.
Union County Mayor Micheal Williams says with tough economic times, budget cuts are necessary.
"You have to make a sound business decision, so to go from $20,000 to $16,000 is a small deficit in that respect, in looking at the long term of what's best for the county," Mayor Williams said.
First responders will be meeting Wednesday at the 911 center at 7 p.m. in hopes to come up with a plan before Monday's county commission vote. The volunteer departments are hoping the community will come out and voice their support at the meeting.
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