James Rada, Jr.
(3/20) With five more volunteer fire
companies asking for paid personnel, the
Frederick County Commissioners are considering
creating a single fire tax district, which
would increase the fire tax paid by property
owners in suburban districts, such as
“I think it’s totally unfair to the
Thurmont region,” said Thurmont Mayor Martin
Burns. “The Guardian Hose Company has save the
county citizens millions of dollars over the
life of their existence.”
The county has urban and suburban fire tax
districts. Residents in urban districts pay
12.8 cents per $100 of assessed property
value. Residents in suburban districts pay 8
cents and use mostly volunteer staff.
The Frederick County Division of Fire and
Rescue Services has asked the county
commissioners to consider creating a single
fire tax rate that would start at 11 cents per
$100 of assessed value in July and increase to
12 cents in July 2009.
“The last time the county raised the fire
tax, pledge to Guardian Hose fell
dramatically,” Burns said.
Burns said if all of the fire tax money
came back to the citizens of Guardian Hose
Company’s first-due area, “at least it might
be palatable,” but that is not the case. He
said that Thurmont would still be expected to
provide the same level of service and the
additional tax money would go to subsidize an
area that can’t get volunteers to staff its
“Instead of being rewarded for doing it on
our own, we’re being punished,” Burns said.
The commissioners will hold a public
hearing on the issue at 7 p.m. on Apr. 22 at
Winchester Hall in Frederick. They will be
considering making or single tax district or
moving the fire companies from Woodsboro,
Carroll Manor, Libertytown, Myersville and
Jefferson from the suburban district to the
urban district. Currently 70 percent of the
county’s stations are in the urban district.
“If all of the stations move over to urban,
over 80 percent of the county will be in the
urban district,” Gardner said.
While Guardian Hose Company can get the
needed volunteers to staff its station,
Gardner pointed out the reason most requests
to switch is not because of the volunteer
firefighters but because of missed ambulance
calls. This is the case with Emmitsburg’s fire
company and ambulance company.
“I think part of the problem is because
there’s been a change in what’s delivered,”
Burns said he will also be inviting Mickey
Fyock, president of the Frederick County
Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, to
speak to the commissioners about why the
association is supporting a single fire tax.
Burns said there has also been discussions
among some municipalities about creating their
own fire departments for their municipalities.
This would at least bring some additional
money back into the town through tax equity.