Here's what likely would have happened if the Marlinton Town Council had passed the ordinance but would not let people outside of the town limits vote on it:
The matter would have gone to court, probably the Supreme Court of the United States. Opponents of taxation without representation would have jumped on this and would have won. They would have won because the fire fee was essentially an unintended scam.
One customer (The town of Marlinton) was trying to force the other customers (people living outside the town limits to pay $$$ for a service merely used by the town not provided by the town.
The town council was forced to admit that it had no authority to make any other customer pay for a service that they themselves voted upon.
The basic question was "taxation without representation." This is still a touchy issue in American over 200 years since the tea was dumped into Boston harbor.
It wasn't merely a matter of the "fee" but the fact that people were being forced to pay for a service without getting to vote on it.
As the old say goes, Don't pee on my shoes and tell me it is raining!
I am so glad that the town council decided to back off and throw this illegal proposal out the door. Good going. I am also glad that Mayor Sam likewise recognized the futility of the proposal and backed off so. Sam Felton is a good mayor who is trying to do the right thing. But sometimes we just don't see things the same way.
I had complained about this fee from day one. I said that we still remembered having a tea part several years ago which caused a revolution in America. I am glad that this proposal was scuttled in the harbor before it because law.
Now the bright side: The MVFD can tell proceed in a legal manner which is already approved by state law. They won't have to invent their own law which will have multiple challenges. They will turn to the County Commission and ask them to impose a fire fee on the whole county.
True, there will be multiple firefights and legal challenges but ultimately the law will be held that the County Commission will successfully impose the county wide tax. It will be approved by lawfully elected commissioners and it will have support from the people.
The bright side is that ALL THE DEPARTMENTS will get equal funding for their services. Frost will have support, Cass will have support, Durbin will have support. And all of this will be from the electorate who can kick out any county commissioner who votes for more taxes. County commissioners will approve the fire tax at the risk of their careers. AND THAT IS GOOD!
Democracy will be validated and advanced by this lawful outcome.
Various fire departments will advance upon the county meetings pleading for their share of the new pie. Then there will be fighting break out among them but that is not bad. Competition for the largess of the county will make for improved service and ALL OF US WILL BENEFIT.
The fire departments will remain as volunteer fire departments manned by people who do so out of the goodness of their hearts and the love of their neighbors.
Attending a county commission meeting will now be exciting and stimulating.
My wife's first response upon hearing the good news was that we have to send in our voluntary donation to the fire departments. AND WE WILL!