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Pittsylvania County News

Posted on: October 20, 2020

Pittsylvania County offers Franklin County alternative funding options for Cool Branch agencies

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After months of negotiations, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors provided Franklin County several options for jointly funding Cool Branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Located within Pittsylvania County, the majority of the two Cool Branch agencies’ calls originate in Franklin County, yet Franklin has provided only 16% of government funding over the past 10 years.

"We are committed to providing timely and effective emergency services for our citizens and the entire Penhook community," said Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman. "We have offered Franklin County several cost-sharing possibilities, each of which is more fair than the current arrangement."

A resolution passed Tuesday evening by the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors offers Franklin County three equitable solution possibilities:

  • Adjust the first due area for Cool Branch and require Franklin County to pay for each service call within its borders.
  • Require Franklin County to contribute $40,000 annually for fire and rescue services and reimburse Pittsylvania County for 50% of all future capital contributions to Cool Branch Fire and Rescue agencies.
  • Incorporate a section of Franklin County north of Old Mountain Road into Pittsylvania County in exchange for Pittsylvania providing 24/7 paid EMS coverage.

Franklin County has until Dec. 1 to decide which course of action it wants to take. Cool Branch will continue to provide coverage in Franklin County in the meantime.

Pittsylvania County leadership brought a concern about inequitable funding for Cool Branch to Franklin County over a year ago, but in that time Franklin County has not proposed a fair solution. Through annual contributions, insurance payments, and funding for new equipment, Pittsylvania County has contributed more than $1.2 million to the Cool branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad since 2011. In that same time frame, Franklin County has contributed just $200,000 even though roughly 60% of the call volume and 64% of the first due territory is from Franklin County.

After a proposal to discontinue service in May, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors granted several 30-day extensions to Franklin County, allowing more time to consider options and come to a mutually agreeable solution. Pittsylvania County leadership has been patient and provided extensions due to a sincere determination to not leave any of the Penhook community without emergency services.

"The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors has invested heavily in Pittsylvania County emergency services by increasing funding to the more than 20 volunteer departments by 76% since 2018 and bringing on paid EMS staff to fill in the gaps," said Bob Warren, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. "Each of these three options would better service the Cool Branch Volunteer Fire and Rescue Departments and the entire Penhook community.”

“Pittsylvania County remains committed to providing emergency services to the entire Penhook community protected, regardless of which locality an individual business or home is in,” Smitherman said.

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