Byram has had a good volunteer fire department since the 1970s, and holds a top rating. But Tremonte and his gang want to bring a larger burden to bear on the residents of Mississippi’s newest city, and I can speak from experience on this, because my family and I are among them.
Tremonte has claimed that starting a full-time, paid fire department was the first thing that he had wanted to do after he was sworn in by Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann in 2009, but it seems that the first thing that he actually did was raise property taxes.
The fire chief has stated that most of the calls that the volunteer fire department receives are for minor medical problems. Yet while a full-time, paid fire department is not needed to replace our selfless volunteers, Tremonte wants between two and four fire stations. Byram is estimated to have a population of over 10,000.
While Byram shouldn’t try to be exactly like any other city, we should learn lessons from other cities concerning what is likely to be good for Byram, and what is not likely to be good for Byram. I often like to compare our city to my hometown – Cleveland, Mississippi, a city with a population of about 13,841 plus about 4,500 students who are enrolled at Delta State University, which is in Cleveland.
Cleveland has had a volunteer fire department since 1920. The Cleveland Fire Department has two fire stations, and a high fire rating with the State Rating Bureau. It has three paid employees and 36 volunteer fire fighters. The paid employees include a Fire Inspector, Maintenance Engineer, and Maintenance Assistant.
Tremonte has stated that he wanted a paid fire department because having it would lower our insurance premiums, but, again, he could have saved Byram residents by choosing to not raise our property taxes.
The Mayor and the Board of Aldermen are making some improvements to the infrastructure in the city: they have installed a few traffic signals, they are working on widening the I-55 off ramp at the Byram exit, and they are improving some roads. But they have yet to fix potholes on Siwell Road – the main road through Byram, and they have not made the center turn lane safer by putting in a median.
As I have said before in previous articles, I personally heard Mayor Nick Tremonte say during a regular Board of Aldermen meeting that it wouldn’t take him long to spend all that tax money, and he is proving that he is doing just that.