Quincy city commissioners want to sit down and talk with the Gadsden County Board of Commissioners about a hot issue: fire.
The issue of fire protection for the county and the agreement it has with the city of Quincy is a little off kilter, according to some commissioners. The majority of the calls for fire service are outside the city limits and some, about 5 percent, are outside of the 5-mile service area.
Commissioners Keith Dowdell and Finley Cook agreed that the county should be paying more than the $435,000 they currently pay annually.
"I don't think they're paying enough, it should be more closely in line to how much it actually costs us," Cook said, estimating the cost the be a little more than $600,000.
City manager Jack McLean said the county has acted in good faith and has paid the first installment of its bill although no official contract has been signed by the two parties. To try to hold a meeting and renegotiate at this time, McLean said, would be ill-advised.
"Our budget is really tight. If we do not approve this contract, they're not going to pay. That's what I've been told by Mr. (Authur) Lawson," McLean said, when commissioners were slow to approve the fire contract. Lawson is the assistant county manager and handles contracts as part of his duties.
McLean said the contract is the same basic document that the two governments have approved in the past. The contract calls for the city to handle all fire calls within a 5-mile radius of the city and to assist volunteer fire departments in the county when necessary.
For that aid, the county pays $435,000 annually.
But what constitutes the 5-mile radius came into question last Tuesday night during the regular meeting of the Quincy City Commission. Does the 5-mile radius begin from the fire station on North Stewart Street or does it begin at the city limits? That and other questions will be discussed when McLean is able to arrange a joint meeting.
In other matters, Police Chief Ferman Richardson told commissioners that the city has experienced an increase in robberies and burglaries lately.
"Within the next 90 days we will form a burglary task force, begin an educational program and coordinate with the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce to get businesses involved in preventing some of these crimes," he said.
Richardson added that plans are also in the works to organize neighborhood crime watch programs, offer rewards to citizens who give information on criminal activity, begin anti-crime mixed media campaigns and increase security at businesses.
"We're also going to ask businesses to incorporate surveillance cameras and to use the equipment properly," he said.