Firehouse Project Approved for $3M in Funding by USDA
The loan has not yet been accepted by Whitesville Fire District Board of Directors. The annual loan payment on the USDA $3M loan at 3.25% interest over the 36 year life of the loan will be approximately $150,000. Sufficient revenue must be available for the loan to be accepted. Based on current revenue accepting the loan will result in a $120,000 annual deficit. Thus the petition effort to generate additional revenue for the Whitesville FD to establish the Cane Bay Fire Station.
Petition is to establish a Special Tax District for the Cane Bay Development area and to implement a $100/year special fire fee in the Cane Bay Special Tax District. Currently, there are approximately 3,600 homes in the Cane Bay Development area. This special tax will generate approximately $360,000 annually.
The additional revenue generated from the special tax will be used to pay the annual loan payments of $150,000 and hire and train three additional career firefighters/paramedics each year (approximately $150,000 annually) for seven years for a total 21 career firefighters/paramedics. These additional personnel will allow the Cane Bay fire station to be staffed 24x7 by career firefighters/paramedics. Residual revenue will be used to purchase essential equipment and apparatus.
This additional revenue will be administered by a Cane Bay Board of Directors made up of residents of Cane Bay. The size and structure of the board is yet to be determined.
The Cane Bay fire station will be an essential part of the Whitesville Fire District and will respond to fire and medical emergencies throughout the district as appropriate. Cane Bay will benefit greatly from having this station within the Cane Bay community, but it will respond appropriately to any and all emergencies within the Whiteville Fire District and emergencies in other fire districts and communities consist with mutual aid agreements.
The comment about Volvo – Volvo is NOT in the Whiteville Fire District. It straddles the Lebanon and Pringletown Rural Fire Districts. I am sure they prefer the fire department serving their needs to be located close to their operations. There are also to additional fire districts (Pine Ridge Rural and Longridge Rural) between us and the Volvo plant. It is approximately 22 miles from the future site of the Cane Bay Fire Station to the Volvo plant. I am sure the residents in the Lebanon and Pringletown Rural Fire Districts would wonder why Volvo would pay for a fire station in the Whitesville Fire District and not invest in the fire districts in which Volvo operates.
I believe the study to which you refer is the comprehensive fire study that is currently being conducted. The results of this study should be available to the county commission in November. As I understand the main objectives of the study are to determine if Berkeley County should transition to a County Fire Service rather that district fire services and to propose a fire fee that is appropriate to meet the fire and emergency needs of Berkeley County. The recommendations of this study will be taken under consideration by the county council for action. This paragraph is my understanding and may have inaccuracies and inconsistencies.
The study to which I refer has nothing to do with the loan.
Being able to accept the loan depends on having sufficient revenue. Without additional revenue it would be imprudent for the Whitesville Fore District Board of Directors to enter into this loan agreement.
Having a fire station located in the Cane Bay development is important and desirable. The petition drive is one approach that if successful will allow the construction of the fire station to start. The other approaches that have been considered will not provide the additional revenue in as timely a manner as the petition approach. Delays in securing additional revenue will delay in securing the loan resulting in a delay in starting construction of the fire station.
Firehouse and FFC Interface