Two volunteer fire departments file lawsuit against Marshall County Revenue Commissioner

(Hawaii News Now/file)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 8:45 PM CDT
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MARSHALL CO., Ala. (WAFF) - Two north Alabama volunteer fire departments are suing the Marshall County Revenue Commissioner.

Together, the Four-C Volunteer Fire Department in Arab and the Georgia Mountain Volunteer Fire Department in Guntersville filed a lawsuit against Commissioner Michael Johnson over a fire service protection fee.

According to the filed complaint, these departments are not receiving all of the money they are legally required by law.

In 2013, the Alabama legislature passed a law that requires these fees be passed on to every residence, business and dwelling in the nine total fire districts within Marshall County. The fee ends up paying for things such as equipment, facilities, firetrucks, insurance and more.

The fire departments claim Johnson is responsible for assessing, billing, collecting, disbursing, administering and enforcing the fire protection service fees.

However, the complaint claims many of these “dwellings” such as mobile homes, tiny homes RVs and more are not paying their fair share. The lawsuit alleges Commissioner Johnson is not enforcing this law, meaning these fire districts are not receiving the required money.

“There are a number of businesses within the Plaintiff’s fire districts which are not being assessed the fire protection service fee as required by law. the Plaintiffs have attempted to point out to the Defendant the business locations which are not currently being assessed a fire protection service fee and the Defendant has refused and/or failed to assess a fire protection service fee. There are also apartment and multiple family buildings within the fire districts for which the Defendant is not assessing a fire protection fee for each and every dwelling with these multi-family and/or use buildings.”

Officials with Four-C claim out of the 451 mobile homes within its district, only 31 were charged this fee. Meanwhile, officials with Georgia Mountain say out of the 132 mobile homes in their district, only 19 mobile homes were charged.

The complaint estimates the volunteer fire departments lack approximately $32,400 because of the missing fees.

Although Georgia Mountain and Four-C are the only districts named in the lawsuit, nine fire districts are impacted by the missing fees, according to Richard Lawson, Chairman of the Georgia Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.

Read the full complaint filed by the districts below:

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