GREENBRIER -- Those who live in Greenbrier's rural fire district will soon be able to pay their voluntary fire tax alongside their water bill.
Fire Chief Tim Tyler proposed tacking on a broken-up portion of the area's rural volunteer fire department tax to the water bills of each of the nearly 1,600 residents that live outside city limits.
As he stood before the city's alderman during Monday night's regularly-scheduled city council meeting, Tyler explained how this addition to a bill that's already sent out monthly would help bring in money to the fire department's rural fund.
The current voluntary fire department tax in the area is $40, which brings in about $15,000 annually for the fire department. However, many rural residents do not opt pay this tax and the fire department is often called out to structure and grass fires outside city limits.
Instead of sending out an annual notice reminding rural residents of the option to pay this voluntary tax to become a member of the rural fire district, Tyler said it would better source revenue for the fire department if residents had the option of paying this voluntary tax in monthly installments. The change would help make the voluntary tax more convenient for residents to pay, he said.
"Instead of paying $40 at one time, it would be splitting up [that voluntary tax] to $3.33 a month," he said. "Putting some rough numbers with it, we've got about 1,500 water meters outside the city limits. Actually, there's [closer] to 1,600."
If each of those residents paid the tax, that would bring in about $60,000 annually to Greenbrier Fire Department's rural district.
"We're not really getting half of that, or a third of it, or a fourth of it. Even if we get 50 percent of the people sitting in that [range], we'd still be bringing in $30,000," Tyler said, adding that this plan was inspired as a means to bring in more funds for the rural district.
The tax would be stapled onto each rural resident's water bill the same as their sanitation fees are currently attached to their monthly water bills, he said.
"I think we ought to do it," Alderman Mary Ann Freeman said following Tyler's explanation.
The Greenbrier City Council ultimately voted unanimously to allot a space for paying $3.33 monthly for the volunteer tax on rural residents' water bills.
Before the meeting closed, Mayor Sammy Joe Hartwick also announced the city's police department recently received a grant to purchase Narcan.
Narcan is used to reverse the affects of an opioid overdose. The emergency-treatment nasal spray is used to counteract the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. Because most accidental overdoses occur in a home setting, it was developed for first responders, as well as family, friends and caregivers to be able to keep on hand to respond quickly in an emergency situation.
The $1,000 grant was awarded through the Arkansas Community Foundation, and Police Chief Gene Earnhart said it helped provide 12 Narcan units.
"We've got one in each of our patrol vehicles now," he said, adding that the police department has three additional spare units apart from those kept with the officers. "It's an outstanding deal."
Hartwick said he was happy the police department received this grant and presented Earnhart with a plaque on the Arkansas Community Foundation's behalf Monday night.
"If it saves just one life, it will be worth it," Hartwick said.