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City Council considers annexation reimbursements to rural fire departments

Hendersonville City Council is considering a plan to reimburse rural fire departments for lost tax revenue when the city annexes property covered by those fire departments.

The council began discussing the plan Thursday at its regular meeting after hearing a presentation from City Manager John Connet that calls for the city to reimburse fire departments for five years for revenue lost due to annexation.
The city came up with the plan after council member Jeff Miller said he met with two Henderson County Commissioners about their concerns over tax revenue lost to the rural fire departments when the city annexes property covered by those departments.
“This is what came from it,” Miller said of the meeting.
Miller said he and the commissioners decided on paying the rural departments for their lost tax revenue for five years because that was a requirement in the past when cities forced annexation.
“This is how it had been mandated it was dealt with in the past,” he said. “It’s not just arbitrary. When one of the commissioners said that was how it used to be handled. I was like, ‘OK.’”
The reimbursement to the fire departments would be determined by multiplying the values of the properties annexed by the city times the rural fire district tax rate. The property values would be determined at the time of annexation, according to information Connet presented the council. The amount each fire department would receive depends on each fire district’s tax rate and the value of the annexed property.
Some reimbursements could be as high as a few thousand dollars a year for five years while others would be less than $100 a year for five years.
The reimbursement would be part of the city’s mutual aid agreements with the four fire departments that surround Hendersonville. Those departments include Blue Ridge, Mountain Home, Valley Hill and Dana fire departments.
Council members said they would like to think about the plan before making a decision and asked the city staff to bring the matter back to their October meeting.