Delligatti, 050718 WVAGO, AGO 050718

Docket Nº:AGO 050718
Case Date:May 07, 2018
Court:West Virginia
 
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Catie Wilkes Delligatti
AGO 050718
No. 050718
West Virginia Attorney General Opinion
State of West Virginia Office of the Attorney General
May 7, 2018
         Catie Wilkes Delligatti          Prosecuting Attorney          Berkeley County          380 West South St., Suite 1100          Martinsburg, WV 25401          Dear Prosecutor Delligatti:          You have asked for an Opinion of the Attorney General about the permissible use of funds raised through the county fire service fee established in W.Va. Code § 7-17-12. This Opinion is issued pursuant to W.Va. Code § 5-3-2, which provides that the Attorney General "may consult with and advise the several prosecuting attorneys in matters relating to the official duties of their office." To the extent this Opinion relies on facts, it is based solely on the factual assertions in your correspondence with the Office of the Attorney General.          Your letter raises the following legal question:
In what manner, and to what extent, may the fire service fees imposed under W.Va. Code §7-17-12 be used to pay salaries and attendant costs of fire protection personnel employed by fire departments?
         We conclude that using Section 7-17-12 fire service fees for expenses related to fire protection personnel is consistent with the statutory text and the Legislature's directive that these fees may be used broadly to accomplish the purposes of a county fire board.          DISCUSSION          West Virginia Code Chapter 7, Article 17, allows for the creation of county-wide fire associations and county fire boards. W.Va. Code §§ 7-17-3, 6; see also Scott v. Marion Cty. Comm'n, 180 W.Va. 483, 484, 377 S.E.2d 476, 476 (1988). County fire associations are comprised of members of county fire departments, and are designed to "discuss fire protection services to address fire protection problems at the county level." W.Va. Code § 7-17-3. County fire boards, which are formed after a vote of a county fire association and by approval of the county commission, are tasked with establishing "the funding priorities for the fire departments forming the fire association." Id. § 7-17-6. The Legislature's creation of these entities reflects its determination that "fire protection and saving lives and property are important to the health and welfare of the...

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