Bryan County Fire Tax

By: Kylie Dixon Email
By: Kylie Dixon Email

CARTWRIGHT, OK-- Anna Jestis remembers last August, when her home in Cartwright, was surrounded by smoke and flames.

"Just burned everything around here nearly, we were real lucky, they saved our home. The fire department was magical about that. I didn't think they would, but they did."

The Cartwright Volunteer Fire Department was the first to respond. Then many others from all around Texoma gave a helping hand.

Assistant chief, David Bray, said sometimes it's a tough financial decision to make.

"You get to a point, where the fuel costs rise so much, or the cost to go assist other people, rise so much, you end up having to make a choice. Do I stay here and concentrate my efforts in this district? Or can I go help my neighbor out of district when he needs help? None of us want to make that choice."

It cost the department upwards of $50,000 a year to maintain their station and respond to emergencies. Each year, the state of Oklahoma gives a grant of $4,000 to volunteer departments, bu it's never enough to make ends meet.

In June, Bryan County residents have a chance to help their local departments.

"It's a one-quarter cent, county wide sales tax would apply to all retail purchases in the county. And it's to benefit and fund all 18 fire departments in the county," Bray explains.

In 2007, the average Bryan County resident spent around $8,000 in retail. If you add the "Bryan County Fire Tax," you will pay just under $21, extra a year.

The money will be evenly split between every fire department. On cost like, training new and current firefighters, purchase of up-to-date equipment and maintenance.

"Things we are doing now already, we'll just be able to increase our services and provide a better quality of service to the general public."

Jestis said thank you to all who helped her during the fire in August.

"It's very, very important. We are out here like sitting ducks, if we don't have people have people to come and help us."

Bryan County voters will be able to vast their ballot on June 26th.
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