Mayor hopes to merge fire departments in light of budget cuts

By Holly Brantley - email

VANDUSER, MO (KFVS) – We need a solution to save the department, and also lives. That's Mayor Harold Graviett's words after $4000.00 in funding cuts for Vanduser's fire department.

Facing budget issues of their own, Graviett says Scott County's Rural Fire Protection District decided to withdrawl that money from Vanduser. That's about half of the total funds Vanduser's fire clubs see per year. So, with public safety in mine, Graviett had an idea: He's asking citizens to sign a petition approving a merger between the two departments; Scott County Rural and Vanduser.

"We need 25% of the people who voted in the last election to sign," said Graviett. "It's a necessity to keep the department in town."

A merger would do just that. But, with no merger, Graviett fears what would happen. "We couldn't survive unless we found another way to get the money."

They receive money from other sources but Graviett said it wouldn't be enough. Assistant Chief of Vanduser, Michael Hargrove says no local department could be costly for safety reasons – he says it would take too long for help to arrive.

"It could be 10 or 15 important minutes," said Hargrove. "Lives."

Meanwhile, Graviett says a merger would mean greater manpower for both departments. Scott County Rural covers 125 square miles. It would also provide perks for Vanduser as well. They would be paid for service and training for the first time.

Mayor Graviett says they met with Scott County Rural to discuss the plan and now he just needs the people of Vanduser to sign a petition. "Joel Evans of Scott County Emergency Management is helping us find a solution," said Graviett.

"I think it's a good idea," said Roger Amos of Vanduser. "They have my support."

"The more people you have the better," said Jane Diggs of Scott County.

People would have to pay a county tax, but we're told it should be less than the $35.00 per year that goes towards current dues.

Mayor Graviett says he plans to have a special meeting for more discussion in the coming days.

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