Brandon has been a council member for the past four years — he was not re-elected during November election — and a volunteer firefighter for the past five years.
He said the Catoosa County Fire Department is running three stations — Nos. 1, 3, and 6 — all day every day for about $1.5 million per year.
POST is proposing a cost of about $800,000 to run three stations— Nos. 1, 8, and 10 — all day every day.
“(Fort Oglethorpe) is getting a good deal,” Brandon said.
The volunteer fire department is able to cut the cost down because it uses part-time and volunteer help. Re-cently, the department also added paid-on-response employees. The POR employees and volunteers are paid by call, while the part-time employees work on shifts like the full-time firefighters.
The part-time, POR, and volunteers firefighters are not given vacation time, benefits or sick days. Brandon said many of them work full-time for other agencies, such as the fire departments for Marietta, Atlanta, Forsyth County, Walker County, and Cobb County.
The city of Fort Oglethorpe employs four full-time firefighters.
POST and the Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County fire departments coordinate their services throughout the county. This means that sometimes the city will help with emergencies outside the city limits, and the county will help with emergencies inside the city.
POST also has expensive equipment the county gets to use for free, Brandon said.
He said the POST Volunteer Fire Department is known all over the state of Georgia for its training programs. It has also won awards at the state level regularly for the past nine years.
“You do that by hard work,” he said.
At a work session in August, city manager Ron Goulart said POST will receive $639,000 of the 2010 budget.
In 2009, the county budget allotted $216,000 specifically to POST.
Right now, a proposal from the City Council is in the hands of county officials. In it, the council asked if the county is interested in the taking over the cost of the fire services in the city and how the county would implement the change.
Brandon called the proposal a “smoke screen of passing paper back and forth.”
He said the county’s Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating is lower than the city’s, and if the county takes over fire services, city residents’ insurance premiums could increase. When he checked with his insurance, his agent told him his would increase $107 per year.
“Nobody is going to benefit from it except for the insurance companies,” he said.
Brandon said he thinks the county and city should meet in the middle with the cost of running the fire depart-ment.
The county is paying just a few hundred thousand dollars to get the entire east side of the county covered, he said.
Brandon said about 64 percent of the SPLOST revenue the county gets comes from Fort Oglethorpe, but the county gives the city of Fort Oglethorpe 12.7 percent of its annual budget.
“That’s just the way it’s always been,” Brandon said. “(But) our needs over here are more than 12.7 percent.”
Brandon, who owns a successful plumbing business, said that’s “a slap in your face.”
He pointed out an idea that another council member mentioned at the August work session. The city of Fort Oglethorpe has $4.5 million in cash deposits in the bank. One member suggested cashing out one that is near matur-ity and using it to help POST in 2010, while the council and city manager planned for 2011’s budget.
He said he foresees either an increase in taxes or a fire fee to cover the cost of the running the department. Walker County currently has a fire fee implemented.
Brandon encouraged the citizens to swarm the City Council and county Board of Commissioners’ meetings to stand up for themselves.
“Everybody do the math,” he said.
He said though he is not on the council this term, he will still “fight for the citizens of Fort Oglethorpe.”