When the Guilford County Board of Commissioners got together on Thursday, April 18 to discuss the upcoming fiscal budget that will take effect on July 1, it became clear that there won’t be a property tax increase; however,  taxes that many commissioners seemed to think must go up are the taxes charged by the various fire districts across Guilford County.

Several commissioners said they’ve been hearing from firefighters about the hardships currently facing departments – especially due to massive cost increases in the vehicles and equipment used to fight fires.

Commissioners have been hearing that a fire engine that may have cost $350,000 not long ago, may now cost nearly twice that much.

The same goes for the gear being used.

Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy said she’d met with a group of firefighters and had a long discussion about their concerns.  She noted that even everyday items – like toilet paper – had significantly increased in price and was eating into the departments’ budgets.

The fire departments are also facing increased labor costs because they aren’t seeing anywhere the number of volunteers that they could have expected a quarter of a century ago.

Commissioner Alan Perdue, who was director of Guilford County Emergency Services before becoming a county commissioner, said that most departments use a combination of paid firefighters and volunteers.  However, he added, with it being much harder to find volunteers, that drives labor costs up.

It’s likely that a good number of fire districts will seek an increase in fire district taxes this year given these considerations.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners will ultimately decide which fire districts, if any, will be allowed tax increases for fiscal 2024-2025.