§7-17-12. County fire service fees; petition; election; dedication; and amendment.
(a) Every county commission which provides fire protection services has plenary power and authority to provide by ordinance for the continuance or improvement of such service, to make regulations with respect thereto, and to impose by ordinance, upon the users of such services, reasonable fire service rates, fees, and charges to be collected in the manner specified in the ordinance.
(b) Any fees imposed under this article are dedicated to the county fire board for the purposes provided in this article.
(c) A county commission can impose by ordinance, upon the users of such service, a reasonable fire service fee, by one of two methods:
(1) Ten percent of the qualified voters shall present a petition duly signed by them in their own handwriting, and filed with the clerk of the county commission, directing that the county commission impose such a fee. The county commission shall not have a lien on any property as security for payments due under the ordinance. Any ordinance enacted under the provisions of this section shall be published as a Class II legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of §59-3-1 et seq. of this code, and the publication area for such publication shall be the county in which the county fire board is located. In the event 30 percent of the qualified voters of the county by petition duly signed by them in their own handwriting and filed with the clerk of the county commission within 45 days after the expiration of such publication protest against such ordinance as enacted or amended, the ordinance may not become effective until it is ratified by a majority of the legal votes cast thereon by the qualified voters of such county at any primary orgeneral election as the county commission directs. Voting thereon may not take place until after notice of the submission has been given by publication as above provided for the publication of the ordinance after it is adopted. The powers and authority hereby granted to county commissions are in addition to and supplemental to the powers and authority otherwise granted to them by other provisions of this code; or
(2) If the county fire board determines an amendment in the fee imposed in subsection (a) of this article is necessary, it may, by resolution, request the county commission for such a change. Upon receipt of the resolution from the county fire board, the county commission shall, by ballot referendum, amend the ordinance imposing a fire fee and adopt the changes in the fee requested by the county fire board.
(A) This referendum, to determine whether it is the will of the voters of a county that an amendment to the fire fee is necessary, may be held at any regular primary or general election, or, in conjunction with any other countywide election. Any election at which the question of amending the fire fee is voted upon shall be held at the voting precincts established for holding primary or general elections. All of the provisions of the election laws, when not in conflict with the provisions of this article, shall apply to voting and elections hereunder, insofar as practicable. The county commission shall, not less than 90 days before the election, order that the issue be placed on the ballot and referendum held at the next primary or general election to determine whether it is the will of the voters of the county that a fire fee be amended: Provided, That prior to issuing the order, the county commission shall publish the ordinance which must contain the anticipated allocation of any fees or charges and which would be enacted should the referendum succeed as a Class II legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of §59-3-1 et seq. of this code, and the publication area for such publication shall be the county in which the county fire board is located.
(B) The ballot, or the ballot labels where voting machines are used, shall have printed thereon substantially the following:
“Shall the county commission be permitted to amend the fire fee in __________ County, West Virginia?
__ For the fee amendment.
__ Against the fee amendment.
(Place a cross mark in the square opposite your choice.)”
(C) If a majority of legal votes cast upon the question be for the fire fee amendment, the county commission shall, after the certification of the results of the referendum, thereinafter adopt an ordinance, within 60 days of certification, establishing the fire fee amendment in the county: Provided, That such program shall be implemented and operational no later than 12 months following certification. If a majority of the legal votes cast upon the question be against the fire fee amendment, then the policy shall not take effect, but the question may again be submitted to a referendum at any subsequent election in the manner herein provided.
(d) In the event that a majority of the votes cast upon a question submitted pursuant to this section at any primary election be against the question, the question may again be submitted to the voters at the next succeeding general election.