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Was Upshur fire fee implemented fairly?

Before our view is misinterpreted, first let us say unequivocally that we believe a fire service fee would benefit Upshur County. It would help provide funding for new equipment and necessary training for the many volunteers who spend countless hours protecting the county's homes, businesses and families.

But we have to agree with Upshur resident Tim Higgins, who has begun an effort to force the issue onto the November general election ballot for a countywide referendum.

Higgins believes the process of implementing the fire fee is flawed because only 10 percent of the county's registered voters had to sign a petition to put the matter before the county commission, which approved the fee.

While Higgins also questions how the fee will be implemented, we won't get into that one. No matter how the fee is implemented, someone will find fault.

But we do think requiring only 10 percent of the county's voters to approve of the fee amounts to taxation without true representation. And while state law may allow it, we question whether it is truly fair.

As for Upshur County residents, they can decide for themselves whether they want the fee to be decided by a countywide vote. If 30 percent of the registered voters sign Higgins' petition, it will appear on the ballot.

Again, we believe the fire fee is necessary. But it would be wise for our state leaders to find ways to impose fair and equal taxation instead of continuing a pattern of regressive tax practices.

John G. Miller

Telegram Editorial Board member

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