Salisbury–The City of Salisbury has proposed a Fire and Life Safety Fee to all residents of the Salisbury Fire Service District. Formally proposed to City Council during budget presentations on Tuesday, April 18, revenue from the fee would increase funding to the Salisbury Fire Department by a total of over $4.5 million.
The Fire and Life Safety Fee would fund several critical functions of the Salisbury Fire Department, including competitive compensation for incoming and current personnel, capital purchases, and additional operating expenses due to a required expansion of services in response to community growth. The fee would also ensure adequate staffing and resources to respond to significant unplanned events (i.e. bomb threats, active assailant events, and mass casualty incidents).
Due to inflation and an unprecedented cost of operations, additional funding is necessary to finance and maintain the current services provided by the Salisbury Fire Department. Without this additional funding, the Salisbury Fire Department may have to significantly reduce service area and special programs.
Through the Fire and Life Safety Fee, all residents of the Salisbury Fire Service District would be provided with full and complete fire protection and rescue services, EMS response and transport, advanced life support and transport, and advanced operations from the Salisbury Fire Department. The fee amount is determined based on parcel type. To view fee amounts, visit https://salisbury.md/fire-and-life-safety-fee.
“The Fire and Life Safety Fee will ensure the continued success of the Salisbury Fire Department. The fire service has entered into a very competitive evolutionary cycle,” said Salisbury Fire Department Chief John Tull. “Public demands and calls for service continue to increase, while available funds and resources continue to shrink. This fee will provide the necessary funding to purchase needed personal protective equipment, medical supplies and assist with recruiting and retaining quality members. Our mission is and always will be to provide the highest quality service possible to our community and its citizens.”
The Salisbury Fire Department strives to meet an international standard 4-minute response time to all calls for service. Staffing shortages, aging equipment, and increased community growth put a strain on response times. By funding the Salisbury Fire Department through the Fire and Life Safety Fee, the Department can continue to provide the highest level of care to the community with the fastest response times possible.
Rising indirect costs–like training, equipment maintenance, and facilities upkeep–peaked during the covid pandemic, but these challenges were temporarily answered with American Rescue Plan (ARP) grant funding in the amount of $4.4 million in FY2022 and FY2023. This funding source is no longer available to fill the gap that continues to widen due to inflation and supply chain issues.
“The importance of the Fire and Life Safety Fee cannot be understated. Public safety is our number one priority, and now is the time to invest in it,” said Mayor Jack Heath. “The Salisbury Fire Department responded to over 16,000 calls in 2022, and that number has gone up every single year for the last five years. The current model is not sustainable. This fee is necessary in order to maintain the quality of service that the residents of the Salisbury Fire Service District not only expect, but deserve.”
As proposed, the fee would only apply to residents of the Salisbury Fire Service District, which includes all residents of the City of Salisbury and select areas of Wicomico County. To view the Salisbury Fire Service District map and determine if your property may be impacted, please visit https://tinyurl.com/sbyfiredistrict.
A press conference on the proposed Fire and Life Safety Fee will be held Tuesday, April 25 at 11:00 am at Salisbury Fire Department, Station 16 (325 Cypress Blvd.). As part of the FY24 budget, the proposed Fire and Life Safety Fee must be approved by City Council no later than June 12. To learn more, please visit https://salisbury.md/fire-and-life-safety-fee.