WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Firefighters in Putnam County won a victory in their struggle to keep their departments afloat Thursday when commissioners voted unanimously to increase the fire fee for the first time in 25 years.
After their request for a 100 percent increase last year was rejected by a 2-1 vote, firefighters reduced their request to a 50 percent increase last month.
"I'm relieved," said Tim McCoy, a Bancroft firefighter.
Last year, Commissioner Steve Andes, who is president of the fire board, was the only commissioner to vote for an increase.
Under the new plan, effective Jan. 1, 2013, a homeowner who pays $25 a year would pay $37.50 annually based on the square footage of the home.
Commercial property owners who pay $50 will now pay $75 beginning next year. The fee's increase is proportionate to the square footage of the property being covered.
About 70 people attended the meeting Thursday night -- some speaking against an increase and some saying it was necessary.
Putnam County Chamber of Commerce President Marty Chapman, who opposed an increase, said he'd like to see more oversight of individual fire department finances.