MASON COUNTY — The Ambulance Authority (EMS) and all fire departments in Mason County, will be receiving some extra, unexpected money before the end of the year.
As many in Mason County know, the county commission was forced to make major funding cuts when it adopted its new budget effective July 1. Significant cuts were made due to the loss of income from Appalachian Electric Power’s Philip Sporn Plant systematically going offline and a skyrocketing county jail bill.
Before adopting the budget, Commissioners Tracy Doolittle, Miles Epling and Rick Handley agreed that if the county received any additional, unexpected tax dollars, those would first be distributed to the Ambulance Authority and the local fire departments. Keeping good on their word, the Ambulance Authority will be receiving an additional $30,000 and all six fire departments in the county will each be receiving $5,000 which will basically eat up the $61,296.41 the county is receiving from the state’s Tax Loss Restoration Fund.
The fund was set up for Fiscal Year 2014 to provide additional funds to counties, districts and municipalities who suffered an unexpected loss in assessed value of public utilities within their entity for Tax Year 2013. The $61k is the first half share and will be received and distributed by the county before the end of the year. The second half share from the state to the county will be distributed in May 2014 though it remains to be seen what the county will do with that second payment. It could be factored into the county tax base for the next fiscal year as this would likely be due to the continued losses of Philip Sporn Plant, the county jail bill and other possible hits in the manufacturing sector.
Earlier this year, the Ambulance Authority and fire departments, along with several other entities, took an across the board 50 percent cut in county funding. The Ambulance Authority went from $120,000 the previous fiscal year to $60,000 and now with the additional $30,000, will be receiving a total of $90,000 from the county.
As for fire departments, again, all six will receive $5,000 each. The following is a listing of county funding for fire departments prior to receiving the recent, extra funds: New Haven, $27,000 in FY13, $13,500 in FY14. Mason, $26,000 in FY13, $13,000 in FY14. Point Pleasant, $31,000 in FY13, $15,500 in FY14. Valley, $27,000 in FY13, $13,500 in FY14. Leon, $25,000 in FY13, $12,500 in FY14. Flatrock, $25,000 in FY13, $12,500 in FY14.
Of course, this good news for some is still bittersweet for other entities which continue to absorb the entire 50 percent cut in county funding which included the health department, all libraries, day report and utility assistance for all community buildings. Local festivals which rely on county donations for operational costs were also significantly cut and donations to both the New Haven and Harmon Park swimming pools were eliminated in order to balance the budget and offset the financial hits the county took in FY 13.