Savings Over Safety?

By: Lori Thompson | Demorest, GA

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Editor’s Note: The City of Demorest has postponed its meeting to discuss a proposed merger of the Demorest and Habersham County Fire Services. This letter regarding that proposal was submitted for publication by Demorest resident Lori Thompson. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

The two newly elected City of Demorest Council members wish to give away the Demorest Fire to Habersham County all in the interest of saving money. Although the prior council set a 2020 budget that has a significant surplus, the new council members wish to give away the city’s fire department. That means that they would just give the county all the equipment, trucks and even the building and the property that the building sits on. And on top of that, the City of Demorest would then have to pay Habersham County to provide fire protection. Although the fee would be less per year than the amount of the current fire department’s budget, the possible savings is the ONLY thing that the newly elected council members see. They have very little to no knowledge of the services that are provided by Demorest Fire Department.

Is our police department next?

I’m suggesting that we are given time to look at this from all sides. As taxpayers, we should have input into what affects our safety. I believe that the newly elected council members have met and made deals in close door meetings without the knowledge of Demorest’s Mayor or Fire Chief.

So, as someone that owns property both in the City of Demorest and in the county, does SAVINGS OUT WEIGH SAFETY!

For the City of Demorest to save, the fee paid to the county would have to be substantially less than what is currently budgeted. So, the county will be taking a loss to provide fire protection services to the City of Demorest. With the county looking for money to improve roads, build a new jail, and not having fire protection staffing throughout the county; why would they wish to take a loss on providing service to the City of Demorest? If the county has money to lose, would not the money be better used for additional firefighters in the county?

What impact does this have on our taxes? Do my city taxes go down and my county taxes go up?

I ask both the residents of the City of Demorest and Habersham County to seek out your elected officials and begin to ask questions. Seek out the individuals that are also running for office and ask them their opinion on what I see is using county funds to pay for city services. I also ask the residents of the City of Demorest to show support for the public safety departments in the city, both fire and police are subjected to being turned over to the county.

Refer to the City of Demorest’s website for meeting dates, which I believe are the first and last Tuesday nights beginning at 6:00 pm.

Again, is SAVINGS GOING TO WIN OVER SAFETY!

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