Before I joined the fire department, I never gave any thought to how dues were collected. I got a notice in January, and I sent in a check for my properties as described. Seems simple, right?
Well, when you have several thousand properties, even the simplest of tasks can become quite complex.
Membership Dues are sent out.
We start with a request to the county assessors office for a list of all property owner mailing addresses within our recorded service area. This is a list of approximately 2,400 addresses. This accounts for the unique parcels of land recorded, but not unique mailing addresses as there are many people that own multiple parcels.
The mailing addresses are parsed from the list and collated to try to minimize duplicate mails to the same address, as this is just wasted funds. When this is done, we will have a list of about 1,600 unique addresses, so we’ve already removed 800 pieces of mail that don’t need to be sent out.
This is where your name and address information come from for the initial mailing, so if you’ve given us corrected information in the past it’s very likely that our computer has your updates but the county assessor does not. Since properties are bought and sold regularly, we start with the list from the assessors office every year.
Then we wait.
But not too long, our members are usually pretty timely!
The mail starts coming in.
Each envelope is opened, validated that the check amount matches the form total, and the check number is recorded. This is often done by multiple people as the mail comes in. Each check is also endorsed at this time for deposit.
The receipts are generated
We keep track of every member in our computer so we have a record of address(es) and names that are covered. This part can be time consuming, and we only have one computer that can be used for this purpose.
Return envelopes are prepared
Our return address and bulk mail permit are stamped onto each envelope. These can be prepared at any time and are often done between other chores around the station. Using our bulk mail permit saves us significant money on postage, however we have to wait until we have enough to send. This is sometimes why it may seem like you’re waiting a few weeks for your receipt.
The receipts are prepared for mailing
The receipts are printed from the computer. Then someone (often multiple people) will begin to fold them and put them into the prepared envelopes. We use windowed envelopes so there is no worry mixing up receipts for delivery.
This entire process is done at least once a week, often more during the peak time between mid January through mid March. Many hours are spent by volunteers doing this, so remember, you don’t have to be a firefighter that goes in burning buildings if you want to help out at the station!
See why we pay these dues.