Fire district expanding in Culkin

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Culkin firefighter Jerry Briggs, center, shows newcomer Bubba Love, left, how to operate a nozzle while junior fireman Chris Jones waits his turn Monday during weekly training at the Culkin Volunteer Fire Department on Freetown Road. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[06/26/01] Between 200 and 300 property owners in Warren County will be paying a new tax next year, but should see a decrease in home insurance rates after being added to the Culkin Fire District.

Warren County supervisors, after a public hearing, have agreed to move ahead in expanding the district’s boundaries despite earlier delays due to a lack of signatures on a petition.

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The petition required the signatures of owners of more than 160 acres and was put on hold a year ago while county officials checked their validity. Approval was not received in time to make the 2000 tax roll and the issue was visited again this year.

The Culkin Fire District runs from the Redwood area south along Oak Ridge Road to Gibson Road along Mississippi 27 and east from the city limits to the Bovina area. The expansion will add areas east of Beechwood between Culkin and the Vicksburg National Military Park and along Bowie Road in the Great Lakes area.

Owners of homes and businesses will pay a 1.75-mill assessment along with county and school taxes in January. But because they will have fire protection available for the first time, their fire insurance premiums should drop, Warren County Volunteer Fire Coordinator Kelly Worthy said.

“It’s little to pay for a lot of benefit,” Worthy said. “It will save many more dollars a year on insurance than the cost for the fire district.”

The increase will amount to a $10 to $20 per year in property tax increases, depending on the size of the property but could save residents up to $300 to $400 a year in insurance premiums, he said.

“They’ve been doing really well,” Great Lakes resident Noel Osment said. “I have no problem with it for that amount. I’ve never had to use them and hope I won’t have to, but it’s good they are close by. I think it will bring insurance premiums down.”

Before 1985, Vicksburg crews and equipment were dispatched outside the city limits, but as negotiations between city and county boards grew strained, a network of volunteer departments was created. Culkin, which serves vast residential areas north and east of Vicksburg’s boundaries, was first.

Tax Assessor Richard Holland said because the board was able to approve the expansion last week, the tax should be able to go on rolls for January.

“By law, you have to turn in the tax rolls over by July 1, so it had to be approved before then,” Holland said.

Another Culkin area resident, William Rhinehart said he doesn’t expect to see any significant changes to his insurance premiums because of his close proximity to a fire hydrant, but that he doesn’t mind paying a slight tax increase if it will help other residents.

“You always wonder what you get for your taxes,” Rhinehart said. “It will probably be worth it overall for everybody in the community. Hopefully it will help somebody.”

The Culkin Fire District received a rating of 8, which is the best outside Vicksburg, Worthy said. The rating allows residents covered by the district up to a 40 percent discount on fire insurance. Ratings are based on the area’s fire department, water system, building codes, and emergency communication.

Jerry Stuart, an Alfa insurance agent in Vicksburg, said as long as a home is included in a fire district, it will have an effect on insurance rates and that Culkin’s high rating will also be an asset to homeowners.

“It’s a very good class compared to county rates,” Stuart said. “If they’ve been paying county rates outside of a fire district, they will definitely see a decrease.”

Also the security of being covered by the fire district is a huge benefit as well, Culkin resident Carolyn Bryant said.

“It’s wonderful that we are covered,” she said. “It’s worth the increase to be protected.”