- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
Finance panel to hear Mt. Juliet fire issue
Nov 22, 2005 12:00 am
November 16, 2005
The City of Mt. Juliet maintains a 19-year-old contract with the county settles the volatile issue of fire protection in the city once and for all, a question which now faces the Wilson County Financial Management Committee.
The county's Emergency Management Agency Committee voted Tuesday night to forward to the finance panel a letter from Mt. Juliet Mayor Linda Elam strongly defending the city's position the county should continue to provide fire protection within the city limits.
But along with the letter, the finance committee will also be asked to study a contract signed in 1986, which District 3 County Commissioner Fred Weston unveiled along with Elam at Tuesday night's meeting.
In the contract, Mt. Juliet basically agreed to turn over equipment and trucks – as well as a building for a $1 transfer fee – to the county in exchange for fire protection.
Weston, speaking at Tuesday's meeting, said the arrangement was instigated by county officials.
"The county came to us and asked us," said Weston, who as a Mt. Juliet city commissioner in 1986 signed off on the agreement. "They wanted a countywide WEMA … and we agreed to it."
Weston cited a list of over a dozen roads – many of them heavily populated – that lie outside Mt. Juliet's city limits, which he said would suffer should the current fire protection agreement change.
"I would just hate to see the people … in my District 3, hurt because of this," he said.
Elam – who earlier sent a letter to County Mayor Robert Dedman disputing claims by some Mt. Juliet should fund its own fire department – also addressed the committee, saying the current arrangement "is not broken, so why fix it?"
"It's a good system, it's a cost effective system and there are no complaints with the services that are currently provided," the Mt. Juliet mayor said.
However, during her often passionate plea on behalf of the city, Elam was cut short several times by Chairman Bob Lannom when she referred to a controversial county ladder truck purchase many Mt. Juliet officials have backed.
"We're not here to talk about the ladder truck. At this meeting it's a non-issue," Lannom said.
"It's your meeting, and you can can set the rules … but we're county taxpayer just like everybody else," Elam said.
Following the meeting, Elam said although discussion of Mt. Juliet's lack of funding fire protection has vibrated through the media and political circles, she has not been formally approached by any county official to discuss the issue.
"During the entire time this whole issue has been bandied about," Elam said. "Not one elected county official has called me and said let's talk about fire service."
Weston also indicated he felt the media had been unfair in its coverage of the issue.
"Instead of so many opinions I wish you all would get the facts and print the facts," he said.
The panel unanimously voted to send the hot-button topic onto the finance committee. County Attorney Mike Jennings – who did not take over the post until a few years after the contract was signed – said he had been unaware of the pact prior to Tuesday night's meeting.
Lannom said the purpose of the meeting was to "clear the air" of lingering controversies over fire protection, which were stirred anew by the failed ladder truck purchase proposal.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at email@example.com.