Aberdeen mayor wants city to give more money volunteer fire department

Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett said he hopes to ultimately give up to $260,000 per year to the city's fire department, a sharp increase from the $100,000 annually the volunteer fire service has been getting from the city.

He said he told Aberdeen firefighters during their annual banquet Saturday that he hopes to dedicate one cent of the city's property tax rate next budget year to the fire department.

That would raise the department's revenue from the city to an estimated $130,000, Bennett said.

He hopes to dedicate 2 cents the following year, which would give about $260,000 to the department.

"We will dedicate one [cent] of the existing tax to the fire department and then have a plan to add hopefully another penny," he said Wednesday. A penny of the city's property tax rate generates about $130,000 in revenue.

Bennett, a 50-year volunteer with Aberdeen Fire Department, said he recognizes the important work the volunteer fire department does and how much more the city would be paying for a paid service.

"That is something that has been on my bucket list since I came in office," Bennett said.

He noted he has no intention of raising the city's property tax rate, which has stayed consistent at 68 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Aberdeen firefighters, both life and active members, also get a property tax credit of $306 each year, he said.

City Manager Doug Miller said he plans to introduce a preliminary budget at the city council's April 14 work session.

The earliest possible adoption date for the budget would be at a May 19 meeting.

No new taxes or fees are expected for the upcoming fiscal year, Miller said.

The budget may include some cuts on capital projects, he noted.

"We still haven't broken out of our flat revenue stage but we think we will put [out] an operating budget that meets all our needs," he said.

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