Hannibal has implemented fire inspection fees for all new businesses. I think it's a bad idea and here's why.

It used to be the Fire Department went through my entire building every year and looked for fire hazards. This was done at no cost because we all pay taxes to have the Fire Department keep our community safe.

You might like to know that we have a high ratio of firemen per residents in Hannibal. If you don't trust me, look it up. No one wants to talk about that because it would mean letting some firemen go - and no one wants to fire a fireman. No matter how many we have.

Because we have so many, our firefighters are looking for things to do and inspections used to be a wonderful service to the community. However, now it's changed.

Now the Fire Department is charging each new business a $25 fee to inspect their business - no matter how large or small. So in my building they no longer inspect the entire building because I have a few offices that are not rented. And when a new person does come in, they are stuck with a $25 fee on top of all the other fees it takes to open a business.

So in essence the Fire Department that is paid for by our taxes is now taxing us again.

I called the Fire Department to find out more about the tax. Our city council approved it after the Fire Department presented the idea. The money goes to an education fund that allows the firefighters to go to the schools and enables them to hand out fire extinquishers to temporary vendors (like at the Folklife Festival). I don't think business people in Hannibal should be paying for this. I think our community tax dollars should be paying for this service.

Right now half of my building is not being inspected at all. Granted it's empty, but how does the fire department ensure whether there is a fire hazard or not? I could be hoarding cardboard boxes and lighter fluid for all they know. I'm sure there are other buildings in Hannibal that are not being inspected once a year now too.

This system has not been well thought out and seriously needs to be reconsidered.