EXCLUSIVE: Lumpkin Mayor, "We are not alone" - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

EXCLUSIVE: Lumpkin Mayor, "We are not alone", after volunteer fire department quits

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LUMPKIN, GA (WTVM) -

The city of Lumpkin fire chief quits his job and his staff follows sending fears of homes burning to the ground throughout the community. 

The small city is at odds over money. 

Tempers ran high at Monday's city council meeting when now former Lumpkin fire chief Greg Stewart requested the city buy a second fire truck.

"He was ready to have a second truck on hand. I do want to have a second truck on hand. The one he found was a little expensive for what we have in the budget," Lumpkin Mayor Charles Gibson said.

The vote was split three to thee between council members, with Gibson being the tie breaker. Gibson broke the tie deciding against buying a truck for $120,000, according to Gibson. 
     
"not saying that we do not need a second truck but we do not need to spend that much on it," Gibson said.

Stewart quit taking the entire fire department with him. 

"I did not ask him to leave. I wanted him to sit down with me and work it out," Gibson said.
     
Woody Muller has lived in Lumpkin for over a decade. 

"My city taxes are higher than state, school board, and county taxes combined. Part of that price that I'm paying to the city of Lumpkin is for Fire protection, right now I have none," Muller said.

Everything within a five mile radius of the Fire station is affected by the shutdown. Mayor Gibson says the city just does not have the money.

"See if we could find something a little cheaper for the city of Lumpkin. Our budget is not a large budget," Gibson explained.

Gibson claimed the city had $100,000 in SPLOTS money to purchase a new truck. He said  he'd like to spend around $70,000. 

Council member Barbara Cullefer says Gibson is not being truthful. There's $78,000 in the current SPLOTS fund and about $35,000 in an old 2007 SPLOTS fund that could be used towards buying a truck, according to Cullefer.    
     
Gibson says his main concern right now is safety.

"We do have a full fledge ready to go fire truck for the city of Lumpkin that's certified and ready for area citizens safety," Gibson replied.

Mayor Gibson says the people in Lumpkin are not in danger, he says the fire truck is fully functional however a source inside the fire department says the truck has a transmission issue that effects the water pump. 

The source also says the truck is 10 years old and has a negative impact on the cities ISO rating. Lumpkin currently has an insurance rating of seven. The source says buying a newer model firetruck would lower their ISO rating, saving taxpayers money on their home insurance. 

Muller said he's concerned about his home but he's also concerned about rising insurance costs. 

"My insurance adjuster told me my insurance premium would more than double," Muller said.

The lower the ISO rating the cheaper home insurance premiums. 

Gibson said he took extra precautions to make sure Lumpkin was protected.

"I made contact to our neighboring city which agreed to help us if we call. I also called out neighboring county which agreed to help and even as far away as Sumter County. I want to make sure that all the citizens know that they have people here. We are not alone," Gibson added. 

Gibson said Richland, Webster County, and Sumter County all agreed to assist the town of less than 2,000. 

Gibson was also accused of wanting to use the fire truck money to fund other projects. 

"There are other things in this city that are needed at this moment. We have a fire truck that's ready to go. We had to wait a year to get major potholes filled because we didn't have a dump truck," Gibson said. "the library is educational, it's needed for people to grow. For your community to grow it has to be educated."

Gibson said he still plans to buy a second fire truck. 

"I am actively looking at trucks now," Gibson said.

The fire department source said Gibson is not educated or trained to inspect a fire truck for purchase. They added the city is at risk because now that all firefighters have resigned no one is legally allowed to operate the fire truck in an emergency. 

Gibson said what's done is done. 

"I am also actively looking for a new fire chief. We are moving forward," Gibson concluded. 

  

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