State gives millions in rebates to fire departments

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Several Lee County volunteer fire departments on Monday received their share of $15.3 million in state fire insurance rebate money.
Checks for roughly $9,600 went to the heads of six departments serving the southeast portion of Lee County. District 5 Supervisor Joe McKinney handed them out in a brief ceremony at the Lee County Justice Center.
Twelve other Lee County fire departments – both municipal and volunteer – also received fire rebate checks.
Together, they totaled $438,573 for the county.
The money comes from a tax paid on fire insurance premiums.
When annual tax collections surpass a certain amount set by state law, the remainder is distributed to fire departments throughout Mississippi, said Mississippi Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury.
This June, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney sent $7.6 million worth of checks to municipalities for their fire departments and $7.6 million to counties for their fire departments.
Governing bodies have about six weeks to distribute it to the departments, whose amounts are based on their protection districts’ populations.
Fire rebate money can provide much-needed revenues for departments that often operate on a tight budget.
“That’s 40 percent of our budget,” said Richmond Volunteer Fire Chief Joe Banik.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com