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Counc OKs emergency fee ordinance

by Shawn Gainer

STAFF WRITER

A Harrison County commissioner and a resident of the Arlington Addition spoke against a proposed change in Clarksburg's non-resident emergency service fee ordinance at a Clarksburg City Council meeting Thursday night, while a council member said it is a needed source of funds for emergency services workers.

The proposed ordinance would change the definition of non-resident from those who live outside of Harrison County to those who live outside of Clarksburg. Under the ordinance, non-residents who are involved in automobile accidents in Clarksburg are assessed an emergency services fee for police and fire department response. The proposal passed by unanimous vote Thursday.

"We are unanimous in our opposition to this change. We feel it is detrimental to the residents of the county and it is wrong," said Harrison County Commissioner Beth Taylor.

Kevin Sears, who lives in Arlington Addition, also spoke against the proposal.

"All calls are dispatched through the 911 center, which is funded by the County Commission and county residents. To charge non-residents who have had the misfortune of being in an accident is not fair," Sears said.

Taylor also read a letter from Paul Hamrick, also a resident of Arlington Addition, in opposition to the ordinance. Commission President Roger Diaz also said Thursday he opposes the change, though he did not attend the meeting.

Council member Jim Hunt said insurance companies recognize and pay emergency service fees and the intent is for them to pay, not the individual involved in a accident.

"If we find out insurance companies aren't paying and it's hurting individuals, we can reverse it," Hunt said. "Our problem is that we are leaving dollars on the table that help pay the salaries of our police and fire department officers.

"We maintain the only fully paid fire department in the county," Hunt added. "When we have accidents where (commercial) trucks turn over on the interstate, we have to respond with HAZMAT (hazardous materials response) and provide extensive services, and get nothing for it."

In its current form, the emergency services fee generates $4,000 to $6,000 a year, said City Finance Director Frank Ferrari.

Council also passed second reading an ordinance establishing an annual salary increase for municipal employees, second reading of an ordinance establishing a municipal license fee for exotic entertainment establishments and a resolution authorizing the city manager to change the term of disability coverage for municipal employees to comply with state law.

Also, council members made several presentations and proclamations. Capt. Randy Waugaman of the Clarksburg Fire Department was recognized as City Employee of the Month. Council members also proclaimed June 1 as "Stand for Children Day" in Clarksburg. Council members also recognized essay, poem and poster contest winners on behalf of the Millennium Committee of Clarksburg.

Staff Writer Shawn Gainer can be reached at 626-1442.

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