HENDERSON CO., Ky (WFIE) - In Henderson County, the opt-out period for the Dues On Tax Bills program is open.
The three-year-old program is making a huge difference by helping to fund volunteer fire departments. County officials are encouraging more property owners to opt-in or donate in some way to support those volunteer emergency responders.
The Dues On Tax Bills Program allows the county to assign an average value of $55 to every property’s tax bill. The money then goes to the county’s volunteer fire departments.
Henderson County Judge-Executive Brad Schneider says their department’s contribution rate has gone from 25 percent to 75 percent.
In the last three years, almost every county volunteer fire department has been able to replace either a tanker or a fire truck. They also have more financial resources than ever before.
Schneider hopes even if property owners have to opt-out on payment for some of their properties, they’ll find a way to give back to the volunteer fire department in their district.
“If they own like five properties, not uncommon in Henderson County to own multiple properties. They’ll opt-out of three out of four and pay for the fourth one. Some people pay the $55 on every property they own,” explained Schneider. “Some people opt all together and don’t send in a darn penny.”
This program was put in place with the intent that it would financially support county volunteer fire departments.
Schneider says in Kentucky, if a charge appears on your tax bill, you have to pay it, which is why the program works in favor of these agencies.
However, there is an option to opt-out of paying the $55. Schneider says people can fill out a form between January 1 and May 31 each year preventing them from paying the dues.
Schneider says each year fewer and fewer people opt out of paying. Schneider believes people have become more understanding of how much work these firefighters do.
Schneider says volunteer fire departments can bill households up to $1,000 for responding to a fire or emergency. However, many entities just ask for a donation.