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Florala looks to county for help with ambulance services

The City of Florala is seeking the Covington County Commission’s help in order to become a part of the fire tax, which would pay for its rescue squad.

Mayor Terry Holley addressed the commission yesterday morning during its regularly scheduled meeting stating that they pay $1,000 a month for its current rescue squad.

“We also provide for them a place to stay, 24/7, seven days a week, for housing in Florala,” Holley said. “We have been doing that for more than three and a half years.”

The city has an 85-bed nursing home, which Holley said was voted the No. 1 nursing home in the state for the past three years.

“The need is there,” Holley said. “They will actually lose their license if we do not have an ambulance service to do that. Right now, we have Advanced EMS here. We are the only one in Covington County that actually pays. So, I am here today to ask for some help with that and to look at if we can possibly be part of the rescue squad money that is distributed out by the county.”

Holley said they have been paying $20,000 a year for the services from the rescue squad.

“Our region extends all the way from Yellow River, Lockhart and all the way to the Geneva County line,” Holley said. “We have a big coverage and it is needed for the area.”

The fire tax is under Amendment 564 of the Alabama Constitution and was adopted in 1993, which Covington County Commission chairman Greg White said was voted on in the county.

According to the amendment, “The County Commission of Covington County shall levy and collect a special property tax, in addition to all other taxes now or hereafter provided by law, of three mills on each one dollar’s worth of taxable property as assessed for the state ad valorem taxation during the preceding year. The proceeds of the additional taxes levied by this amendment shall be used exclusively for fire, emergency medical, and rescue services.”

“The funding is approaching $40,000 per unit,” White said. “We have about 24 to 25 volunteer and paid fire departments and three or four rescue squads who participate in it at this time. All of them are getting $40,000 annually so it is about a $1 million pot of money.”

Commissioner Tony Holmes said he certainly understood the necessity of the rescue squad.

“We certainly understand that we can’t go without a rescue squad because of the nursing home in Florala,” Holmes said. “I just want to go over this and make sure that we have got all of the right write ups before we make any moves on this.”

The commission decided to table the decision until the next regularly scheduled meeting.

The commission also:

  • Approved funding requests.
  • Approved to surplus vehicles for the sheriff’s department.
  • Approved to solicit bids for the engineer’s department.
  • Approved a retail beer license.
  • Announced that there is an opening on the Industrial Development Board.