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Grant match for Belfast VFD postponed by commissioners

Friday, December 4, 2009

Unanswered questions led to a postponement of a decision by Marshall County commissioners during their most recent meeting when they could have prepared Belfast's fire department for a federal grant.

Nearly $8,200 is recommended by the county's Economic and Community Development-Tourism (EC&D-Tourism) Committee for the Belfast Rural Volunteer Fire Department, one of 18 non-profit charitable organizations funded by the county.

Belfast firefighters have explained they've applied for a federal grant to buy a fire truck, but it's a matching grant and there must be proof that the local matching money is available for the department to be funded.

The $8,200 is in addition to a total of $31,500 appropriated to all rural fire departments at $4,500 each. hat money was approved with the annual budget this fall.

However, commissioners took a pay cut to avoid a reduction in that level of funding. The $8,200 is from the EC&D-Tourism fund. It's money is from taxes paid by people who rent hotel and motel rooms.

Nearly $209,500, including Belfast's grant, would be paid by the county from general funds and the EC&D-Tourism account, according to the resolution postponed until the commissioners' meeting on Jan. 25.

"We'd already approved the rest of them," Stitt explained Thursday about $201,300 planned for non-profit charitable organizations.

"The only addition was the Belfast Fire Department," he said of the resolution listing the 18 non-profit, charitable organizations.

"I had a lot of questions from commissioners and hadn't been able to get back with them, so I just postponed it until January," Stitt said. His fellow commissioners were asking a simple question: Why is more money being appropriated since they took a pay cut?

Meanwhile, if the Belfast Rural Volunteer Fire Department fails to win the grant, then the $8,200 from hotel-motel taxes won't be appropriated to that department, Stitt explained.

Also during the meeting on Nov. 23, commissioners:

* Renewed the county's waste tire recycling contract with Mac's Tire Recyclers, declaring it mutually beneficial and a continuing solution to that aspect of solid waste.

* Authorized Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett to apply for a Tennessee Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

The block grant's money comes from the federal economic stimulus program. It's fostering support for energy conservation with programs such as geothermal heating and cooling systems.

* Recognized Chapel Hill Lions Club members for their generosity and service to Marshall County.

The resolution is an expression of thanks from the county to the club for allowing the EMS to use a building owned by the club since 1993 without charge.

The rent-free arrangement made it possible for the county to have an ambulance station in the north end of the county.

* Voted to ask the Tennessee General Assembly to name a bridge over the Duck River on Route 272, Verona-Caney Road, as the Alex Allen Memorial Bridge.

Allen and his family are long-time farmers in that community and Allen was reviered for his support of the 4-H Clubs. Allen died in 2000.