Preston volunteer fire departments to begin receiving money from levy

KINGWOOD — Preston commissioners set up the process Monday for volunteer fire departments to begin receiving money from the fire levy approved in May by voters.
The five-year levy calls for each of the county’s 12 volunteer fire departments to share in money from the levy, with no more than $550,000 total taxes being collected in any single tax year. The Preston County Fire Association is to collect $15,000 per year.
The levy call specified that fire departments use the money to provide “Materials and equipment for maintaining and enhancing fire department facilities, general supplies, utilities, vehicle maintenance and expenses and insurance expenses.”
At least 10 percent of the funds received by each department must be used to train and educate firefighters.
On Monday the commission approved the establishment of a Fire Levy Board, as required in the levy call. Fire departments will submit bills to the board, which will verify they meet the requirements for reimbursement.
If the bills pass muster, the board will forward them to the county commission, which will approve them and issue checks, reimbursing departments for expenses.
Members of the board will serve throughout the lifetime of the levy. It includes three at-large members and four from volunteer fire departments.
The board includes Kingwood Fire Chief Perry Barlow, Reedsville Fire Chief Scott Spiker, Certified Public Accountant Peggy Galloway, Masontown Fire Department Secretary Treasurer Don Witt, Rodney Evans of Bruceton Mills, Pam Willis of Independence and Tunnelton Fire Chief Franklin Schnopp.
Commissioners Craig Jennings and Don Smith also approved issuing a check for $15,000 to the Preston County Fire Association, so it can have the funds on hand if needed. It will have to account for any expenditures.
County Administrator Kathy Mace said each month Galloway, the county bookkeeper and chief deputy at the tax office, will reconcile the books on the levy account.
“The county is ultimately responsible,” Mace stressed. “This is a county levy.”
Commissioner Dave Price was not at the meeting.
Also Monday, commissioners:

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