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Marshall County Volunteer Fire Departments file lawsuit against revenue commissioner

The lawsuit claims the revenue commissioner has not been keeping up with the proper amount of funds for the departments.

Posted: Jul 17, 2021 8:28 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2021 11:19 PM

In Marshall County, two volunteer fire departments are filing a lawsuit against the county's revenue commissioner for mishandling funds.

The lawsuit claims county revenue commissioner, Michael Johnson failed to properly administer, assess, collect and disperse of fire protection fees.

Those fees have a price tag of nearly $36,000 over a span of 2 years.

WAAY-31 spoke with one of the departments heading this lawsuit on what they want the community to know.

The biggest thing the Georgia Mountain Volunteer Fire Department wants you to understand as a resident, is they're not asking for more money.

They're asking for the processes to be done in the right way.

"We're seeing somewhere between a 12% and 15% error in the assessment, collection and distribution. The biggest part of the problem with the error is the assessment," said Richard Lawson.

Richard Lawson is the chairman of the board of directors for the Georgia Mountain VFD.

He says between 2019 and now, they're not only missing thousands of dollars, but they also aren't able to make sure every single dwelling, home or building is safe.

The volunteers not only assess fire damage, but they help around the community as well.

Sarah Sparks can attest to it, as she lost her home last year due to a fire and says the volunteers are more than just firefighters.

"Saying thank you just isn't enough, like it really isn't. The amount of gratitude that we feel... Because you don't think about what's next, what's going to happen tomorrow. But they do," she said.

The fire protection fee is $5 a month and it not only helps with equipment in the fire station, it also helps lower insurance for homeowners with the volunteers' service.

Sparks says to know this issue is happening, still, is unfortunate and both Georgia Mountain and 4-C VFDs say they just want the law to be upheld.

"I really hope that they're able to get this sorted out soon and Georgia Mountain and 4-C are both wonderful, wonderful people," said Sparks. "Please read the act and follow and follow the state laws and work with us to solve this problem” said Lawson.

We were told some of these changes may not take place until next year but everyone at the Georgia Mountain Volunteer Fire Department is doing what they can now to address these issues.

The fire departments told WAAY-31 the lawsuit was the last resort and they claim they tried to meet with the revenue commissioner several times.

All they want is accountability so they can do their jobs efficiently.

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