Forestdale Fire cuts salaries because of unpaid dues

By Sherea Harris

FORESTDALE, AL (WBRC) - The Forestdale Fire Department is $100,000 in debt. So its board of trustees voted Monday to cut employee pay by 35 percent.

Forestdale's Chief Don Melton says a 35% cut will be a heavy burden for his nearly 20 fire and rescue employees and their families. The cuts will save the fire district $19,000 a pay period. It's enough to operate through the end of the year.

The board's president, Marvin Fletcher, regrets the financial bind left on the firemen, but he says the cuts were the only way to prevent layoffs.

"If we lose one person it affects the whole community because it affects the service," said Fletcher. "We don't want to layoff off anyone if we can help it."

Chief Melton said, "We are going to do our best to try to lessen that 35. If we can drop it to 30, 35, 20 we'll do that based on how much money we have to operate."

A trustee says the debt is the result of homeowners not paying fire dues and there was a mismanagement of funds by a former business manager.

An additional revenue stream includes raising fire dues for homeowners by $56.

It's now $188.00 a year. Many folks haven't paid it, which in part has lead to the financial strain on the fire department.

Elaine Beavers, a resident, says, "They know the names and addresses of those who are not paying. They know this. Why don't they go after them?"

Forestdale residents will have a chance to speak about the possible increase in fire dues. There is a public hearing Tuesday, September 21 at 6:00 pm at the Westwood Baptist Church.

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