New Tax To Give $3K Per Month To Each Marshall Co. Fire Departme - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

New Tax To Give $3K Per Month To Each Marshall Co. Fire Department

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KINGSTON, OK -- Firefighters in Marshall County are getting a financial boost thanks to yesterday's primary election. Voters passed a tax that will give 10 volunteer fire departments a new source of funding.

A total of 2,006 people cast their ballots, and only about 542 voted against the sales tax. Firefighters say it will allow them to buy new equipment and pay for training that could save lives.

For volunteer firefighters, rushing to the aid of those in need is a way of life. "It's exciting and you're helping the people," says Lebanon fire captain Jim Thompson.

"It's a lifestyle and you just are part of it," says Kingston fire chief James Kuykendall.

But paying for the equipment they need can be difficult. "State operational money is dwindling every year and you can only sell so many hundred dollars of pies and cakes and raffle tickets," says Kuykendall.

Kuykendall hopes they will be able to replace a white truck that they take to car accidents... "You can kind of see the oil leaks and stuff underneath it, I mean, this is ongoing," says Kuykendall.

After voters passed a one-quarter cent sales tax by a 3-to-1 margin. 

"I was not expecting over 70 percent," says Kuykendall.

The fire chiefs' association called Marshall County Fire and Safety says the tax will give each of 10 departments a guaranteed funding source each month that they estimate will be about $3,600 for each department.

"This is going to kind of be life changing," says Kuykendall. "I mean, we've got departments that live on $7,000 or $8,000 a year and now they're gonna be bringing in a tax we're estimating about $3,600 per month. ...It costs about $2,000 per person just to put them in bunker gear, another $1,000 worth of radios and pagers and SCBAs are $5,000 a piece."

At the Lebanon Volunteer Fire Department, they're expecting to get their first round of funds by October and their first priority is to replace bunker gear and helmets that their firefighters use.
    
"It's well over 10 years old, so we're going to have to take care of our people," says Thompson.

They also want SCBAs -- the oxygen tank that helps them go into a burning building.

"More equipment means the more safer people will be during fires," says resident Raquel Nunez.

That's before they even consider their aging trucks, like this one leaking anti-freeze.

"We had a gentleman from Houston that's on their fire department and I think he thought we had a museum going here," says Thompson.

"The money will actually come through Marshall County. It will come through the treasurer's office and the county clerk's office , so everybody will have to go through the county purchase order process and the county bid process," says Kuykendall.

Kuykendall says they looked at surrounding counties, almost all of which have a similar tax, before coming up with this plan about a year ago. They are expecting it to make a big difference.