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Rocky Mount, Franklin County remain at odds over fire truck funding

Jason Dunovant

Sep 21, 2023

ROCKY MOUNT — Debate between Franklin County and Rocky Mount leaders over the purchase of two new fire trucks continued Tuesday during a Franklin County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Rocky Mount Mayor C. Holland Perdue III has attended the past two meetings to request additional funding from the county. Last month supervisors agreed to provide an additional $50,000 per year for 20 years to the town of Rocky Mount for the purchase of one of the fire trucks.

This would be in addition to funds already allocated to the Rocky Mount Fire Department annually for the purchase of gear and equipment. According to a statement last month from Boone District representative Ronnie Thompson, the $50,000 would be in addition to the $90,000 per year the county already provides to the town, which is more than what the county provides to any other fire department in the county.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Blue Ridge District representative and Chairman Tim Tatum said Rocky Mount refused the county’s offer at a meeting between himself, Perdue and Rocky Mount Town Manager Robert Wood late last month. Despite that, he once again made the offer of $50,000 a year in additional funding for Rocky Mount.

“We feel the offer of $50,000 a year for 20 years is a reasonable offer and that is our official offer that we are making to the town of Rocky Mount,” Tatum said.

During the public comment period of the meeting Tuesday, Perdue criticized the offer by supervisors. He questioned why the county pays 100% of the fire trucks for all other departments in the county while paying nothing for fire trucks in Rocky Mount? He said residents in Rocky Mount are still Franklin County residents and are allowed the same funding and services.

Perdue said the county’s offer of $50,000 a year for 20 years would equate to less than 25% of the financed purchase price of the fire truck the town recently ordered. The town is also in negotiations to purchase a new ladder truck needed for the Rocky Mount Fire Department. That truck expected to cost more than $2 million.

More than 60% of the calls the Rocky Mount Fire Department responds to are also outside the town limits, Perdue said.

“When an individual makes that call to 911, they aren’t taking into consideration who paid for what,” Perdue said. “They trust us, their elected leaders, to make certain that they are receiving the best possible assistance available. When the Rocky Mount Fire Department receives a call, they do just that, without regard to our negotiations.”

Former Rocky Mount mayor Steven Angle attended Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the current roadblock between the town and county. He said the town and the county need to work together.

“At this time, the town and county need to be on the same page,” Angle said.

Rocky Mount Fire Chief Justin Woodrow also spoke in favor of the town and county coming together. He said the new fire truck and ladder truck were a necessity for the department.

“We are not asking for something we want, we are asking for something we need,” Woodrow said.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Perdue said he had spoken to some supervisors who supported his request, but had not heard any official response. He said a fair offer would be for the county to pay 60% of the cost of the new fire trucks.

If there are no negotiations, Perdue said he will attend next month’s meeting as well to make the same request.

“I plan to be there,” Perdue said.

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