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Paulette volunteer firefighters are defending a new method of staying afloat financially. Fire Chief Daniel Rice spoke at Monday night's Union County commission meeting about their new membership fee system.

Commissioners called Rice up to discuss this new system. He said it is a membership fee of $75 a year for residents, and $150 a year per commercial building.

This fee is an optional fee for people who live in the jurisdiction of the Paulette Fire Department. It helps with the upkeep of the fire department's services.

If you do not pay the fee, you could face an even larger fee if something were to happen to your house.

In the last few years, they collected $50 a year of donations from the community. The new system went into effect this past month.

Chief Rice says they receive $20,000 from the commission each year. He said it barely covers the equipment costs.

Rice sent a letter to the people in his district warning them about the change in November, then they started to accept the fees starting in December. Some of the residents attended the meeting unhappy about this change.

Bonnie Tebelman is a resident who received one of the letters.

"Where is the money going? Show us that you cannot make it work. Don't just send us bills with no reasoning whatsoever," said Tebelman.

The meeting ended around 10 p.m. on a note where nothing was decided. Mayor Mike Williams said the issue will be up for discussion in the future.

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