Negotiations between Pittsylvania County and Franklin County regarding funding for the Cool Branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad are being put on hold as Franklin County leaders further consider their options.
In the interim, Franklin County leaders agreed to increase their annual contributions to each agency from $10,000 to $12,000. Pittsylvania County leaders decided during the May 18 meeting that they plan to match this same level of funding.
“This board of supervisors remains committed to investing taxpayer dollars into the Cool Branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad,” said Bob Warren, chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “Both Franklin and Pittsylvania County leaders want to ensure that the entire Penhook community, regardless of locality, has access to quality emergency services.”
The county intends to execute a memorandum of understanding that outlines this arrangement.
This comes after more than a year of good-faith negotiations where Pittsylvania County leaders requested that Franklin County increase its annual contribution to the two Cool Branch volunteer departments.
The Cool Branch agencies reside just inside Pittsylvania County, but respond to the majority of their calls in Franklin County. A range of possible solutions have been proposed and considered for how to more equitably fund the Cool Branch stations, which has received 84 percent of its government funding from Pittsylvania County, where only 40 percent of its first-due calls originate.
Franklin County requested that Pittsylvania County leaders continue funding the department at the same level while it considers its options. The board of supervisors is committing to match the $12,000 annual contributions from Franklin County, as well as providing insurance coverage for the agencies.
“We are thankful for Franklin County electing to increase their annual funding for the two Cool Branch agencies, and we are still committed to finding an equitable solution that works for Cool Branch, that works for the Penhook community and that works for both counties” said Ben Farmer, supervisor for the Callands-Gretna District, where the departments are located.
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