The Concordia Parish Police Jury voted Monday night to send a letter to Fire District 2 at Vidalia asking that the fire station be cleaned up and personal belongings removed.
The district recently laid off some of its part time firefighters, attributing the decision to “the effects of the Covid-19 virus.”
The Jury’s action Monday night came after an inspection of the fire station on September 3 and a walk-through meeting on September 8.
Prior to that, on August 10, a letter from Fire Chief Nolen Cothren and Chairman of the District 2 board Judy Pugh was sent to district firefighters stating that due to the “effects of Covid-19 on our yearly budget we find it necessary to make some adjustments in our personnel.”
The letter also stated that as of August 14 there would be layoffs, noting, “We regret having to take these steps, but they are necessary.” The letter stated, “If you received this letter you are one of these” to be laid off.
Juror Gary Neal said the fire district facility was in disarray.
The Jury gave the district 45 days to get the building in order.
Jury Secretary-Treasurer Sandi Burley said that she, Jury President Joe Parker and jurors Neal, Willie Yearby and Scottie Whittington visited the fire district facility on September 8.
She said Cothren was the only fulltime employee of the fire district while the other firemen were considered parttime employees.
Burley said the district’s application for payroll reimbursement has been submitted to the state through the Cares Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security).
“Their application is for full payroll reimbursement from March 1 through June 30 (the current application time frame),” Burley said. “This is currently over $50,000 for firefighting and approximately $18,000” for the fire chief.
According to Burley, firefighters as emergency responders are eligible for payroll reimbursement.
The bulk of the fire districts annual income is from ad valorem taxes, which totaled $580,822, according to the district’s 2018 fiscal year audit.
The district at that time employed one fulltime and 11 parttime employees with a total payroll of $242,358.
Net position for fiscal year 2018 was $1.3 million.