AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Potter County officials are hoping to pass legislation that would generate revenue for new rural county fire equipment.
If passed, the legislation would create a public assistance district that would raise the sales tax in unincorporated parts of Potter county from 6.25% to 8.25%.
All funds collected from the sales tax would go directly to rural fire stations. Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner said the assistance would provide much needed improvements.
"They're literally in bad shape," said Judge Tanner. "We have to do this, we want to do this to make sure we have enough fire equipment for the people that live out in the county."
Potter County Commissioner Leon Church said funds are collected from more than 300 businesses. He says the tax could generate potentially $500,000 extra every a year. When the new equipment is bought, insurance premiums are reevaluated and usually lowered, thus saving the county money.
Judge Tanner says the responsibility of paying for new equipment is not left solely to residents; anyone traveling through Potter county and spending money will be affected.
"Just people traveling through town," said Judge Tanner. "Stopping at gas stations and getting some gas, some chips and a coke. So just that two cents make a difference. You wouldn't think it would but it really does."
The tax increase would be implemented to areas outside Amarillo city limits. Anywhere north of Cherry Avenue, west of Soncy Road, east of Amarillo airport, and south of 58th Avenue.
Fire Chief Richard Lake said it gets harder and harder to replace equipment, especially with rising costs.
"Anyone that sees fire equipment knows it's very expensive," said Chief Lake. "It's hard to replace on a regular schedule without having fairly large sums of money to be able to do that."
The station struggles each year. Rural county fire stations like Potter County Fire are operated by volunteers. Fire Chief Richard Lake said if the assistance district passes, it will help make people continue to want to volunteer.
Chief Lake says the district would greatly help benefit firefighters and residents in rural parts of the county.
"It's desperately needed," said Chief Lake. "When you start looking at the age of the equipment as far as how often it is used, it is very, very important we keep the equipment updated."
Potter County officials hope to have the district assistance on the November ballot, but at the latest it will be on the preliminary ballot in March.