County officially drops $25,000 fire bill
At its Feb. 26 meeting, council officially cancelled a $25,000 invoice issued to Ruth and Frank Hixt for a fire on their property last July.
On July 27, a lightning strike destroyed five buildings on the Hixt’s cattle farm.
The fire department was delayed in arriving because crews were elsewhere in the County dealing with a different fire.
The buildings weren’t insured because they were too old.
At the time, the Hixt family was told by the fire chief there would be no charge.
However, council had recently approved a cost-recovery bylaw dealing with emergency services. Charges associated with personnel and equipment use came in just under $25,000 and the bill arrived at the Hixt household last month.
During a flurry of media attention, Reeve Rolly Ashdown announced publicly Feb. 6 that the charges would be dropped.
He said staff made an error in sending the bill and it would be revoked.
Ashdown said the purpose of the bylaw is to recover costs from people’s insurers when possible but noted in a situation like this one, “If it’s something that happens that isn’t their fault, like (a) freak accident or lightning strike, people shouldn’t have to pay.”
Going forward, people who feel they unfairly received a bill for emergency services can request council review it.