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Beaver Lake Fire Department board wants special election to decide on increasing rates by $50 yearly

by Tracy Neal | January 27, 2023 at 5:00 a.m. | Updated January 27, 2023 at 10:23 a.m.
(File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

BENTONVILLE -- A special election may be called to help fund the Beaver Lake Fire Department.

Larry Smith, the chairman of the board for the Fire Department, told justices of the peace at Thursday's Benton County Quorum Court meeting that the board planned to seek a rate increase. He said the board plans to ask the Quorum Court to pass a resolution setting a special election for voters to consider the increase. The proposed special election would be May 9.

Smith said the board plans to complete a narrative explaining the need for the rate increase and present it to the justices of the peace.

The resolution request will be on the agenda of the Committee of the Whole's meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Quorum Court Room in the Benton County Administration Building.

David Cauldwell, who is also a board member, said the current fee is $150 a year. He said the request is for the amount to increase to $200 yearly.

"We want to give the voters the opportunity to decide," Smith said. "It will be up to the voters."

Justice of the Peace Joel Jones said he had received an email about not having a special election and increasing the fees by petition. He said he will not support any petition attempt to raise the fees over a special election.

County Attorney George Spence told the justices of the peace the Quorum Court has to pass the resolution by the Feb. 28 meeting in order to have the special election on May 9.

The board withdrew a petition in August to start a process to raise the rates. At that time, the board wanted to start a fire district. Under the plan that was withdrawn, residents would have had to pay based on the appraised value of their homes.

The petition described the proposed district's boundaries and set the maximum levy at 0.325% of the property's appraised value as determined by the county assessor, according to the Fire Department's Facebook page. The owner of a house appraised at $200,000 would have had to pay $650 for fire dues.

There was heavy opposition to the planned rate increases.

Cauldwell said the board is trying to keep residents informed of the issues facing the department.

The annual membership meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday Feb. 4 at Lakeside Baptist Church on Arkansas 12 East, Smith said.

The story was updated to correct the date of the membership meeting.

Print Headline: Fire Department board wants to ask voters to raise rates


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