‘Look at something else’ for firemen

Published 4:47 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In mid-November, the Kenbridge Town Council dropped its requirement for residents to come in and buy decals, now having the license fee split on everyone’s June and December tax bills.

What may have been most noteworthy about the decision was that in adopting the change to the town ordinance, the council stuck with its decision to do away with the two-vehicle tax exemption for volunteer firefighters.

Losing the free decals drew complaints from some volunteer firefighters, but the decision by the council to drop the exemption for firefighters seems a fair and just one.

Indeed, the point of the change in the first place was to be revenue-neutral and simplify bookkeeping. Keeping track of who got the exemption hadn’t always been the easiest thing, anyway.

There had been instances when the town had gone to charge someone only to find out that they received the exemption.

Secondly — and maybe most important — council members noted that the exemption is unfair because few of the local volunteer firefighters who respond to local calls live in town; and members of the rescue squad don’t receive the same exception. In their discussions, some council members questioned the fairness of the practice.

Aren’t all the volunteer firefighters making the same sacrifice? And are only volunteer firefighters worthy of some appreciation?

In the end, Mayor Emory Hodges, himself a volunteer firefighter, may have summed it up best: “If you want to do something, do something substantial. … My suggestion is if you really want to do something for volunteers look at something else you can give them.”