Salisbury Leaders Ask For Tax and Fire Service Changes from Coun - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salisbury Leaders Ask For Tax and Fire Service Changes from County

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SALISBURY, Md. - Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton announced Friday morning that he will be asking for changes from Wicomico County leadership.  Ireton wants tax cuts from the county for Salisbury city residents and wants a new fire service agreement.  The mayor said these changes will help the city and residents get rid of an annual $3 million burden. 

Asking for a change in taxes on the county level for city residents is not something new in the city.  From 2006-2011, the city sent a letter to county leadership requesting the county property taxes for city residents be lowered.  Salisbury leaders say city residents are paying for services the county does not provide.  But in each of those years, nothing changed.  However, Mayor Jim Ireton believes the current county leadership wants to make tax cuts.

"What we have is new county leadership saying we want to cut your taxes, and my solution this morning to those leaders of Wicomico County is here is a way you can cut our taxes that makes it fair for the municipalities and the residents who live there," said Mayor Ireton.

The city is requested a cut to county property taxes for city residents by 6.49%.  Ireton made similar requests for Fruitland and Delmar.  Mayor Ireton also requested a change in what he calls an inequitable fire service agreement.  The mayor says the city fire department responds to over 60% of all the fire calls in the county, but only receives less than a quarter of the annual county funding for Fire and EMS.  Ireton says this leaves the city short $2.2 million short annually.  The mayor says he wants to make a change so he does not have to explore unfavorable options.

"I can tell you once, Mayor Martin back in 1980's walked down the hallway and told Henry Parker, my fire equipment will not go outside the city limits if you don't clean up your act.  If it comes to that, it comes to that," said Ireton.

The city has also presented the county with an option for the fire service agreement.  It is essentially a new tax that would raise the total county funding for Fire and EMS for just over $4 million to $10 million.

"It will however allow the county or the city or the other municipalities to reduce their tax liabilities that they already pay out of their general fund by a certain amount.  Whatever that fund is," said Fire Chief, Richard Hoppes.

But all of that is just a suggestion.  The county will decide if any changes are made.

County Executive Bob Culver was unable to attend the Mayor's press conference on Friday morning but said he is fully prepared and looking forward to working with Mayor Ireton on these issues in the near future.

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