SEARCY, Ark.(KTHV) - Some Searcy residents feel solicitors calling, representing the Searcy Professional Firefighters Association are leading citizens to believe that the funds collected benefit the Searcy Fire Department.
"The city of Searcy or the fire department are not involved in any type of a fundraising effort at this time," said Mayor David Morris of Searcy. His office has received more than 120 calls from concerned citizens. "People assume the money's going for the actual sustaining of the operation of our fire department."
"When people hear Searcy Professional Firefighters, they're hearing Searcy Firefighters. They're eliminating the professional out of what they're hearing," said Bayne, president of the organization and a lieutenant with the Searcy Fire Department.
Bayne said 45 percent of funds collected go to a company called Arkansas Sports & Events Marketing. He said 30 percent goes to the company soliciting and collecting. Bayne said 25 percent goes to the Searcy Professional Firefighters Association.
Bayne said his organization makes contributions to places like Arkansas Children's Hospital and Camp Sunshine.
Bayne said he feels the underlying issue is that the Searcy Fire Department is part of a union. He said the union has never sat well with some city officials like Mayor Morris.
"They can do whatever they want, join a hunting club or whatever on their free time. There's no problem with that," said Mayor Morris.