Questions & Answers

Announcement:

 

            Mr. Jack Schurlknight, District 6 Councilman, Mark Cotone, Eggs Up Manager and Whitesville Rural Fire Department Board Member, and Shirley Berardo, Firehouse at Cane Bay Fundraising Committee Chairperson, met in Eggs Up 11:00am October 9, 2017.  Shirley’s Meeting Notes are as follows:

 

Monday, October 16, 2017, USDA Loan Check will be presented to Chief Stephenson, Whiteville Rural

Firehouse, Moncks Corner, with Mr. Schurlknight present. 

The USDA Loan Check is designated for the Firehouse at Cane Bay build.  Considering moving ahead with “Firehouse at Cane Bay" build while the Committees are assessing the Fire Study information, may have Firehouse by end of 2018.  Council Members must agree regarding plan/funding regarding moving forward when Fire Study complete.

The Cane Bay Plantation Resident’s Signed Petitions kept in abeyance until Council ascertains if needed.  A Referendum on the next Berkeley County voting cycle was not mentioned. There are other Berkeley County Special Tax Districts established to accommodate area Special Tax needs.  Currently, a Firehouses have been developed in a “Patchwork” approach.  When Fire Study complete, BerkeleyCounty Council will discuss the potential for a “Cohesive” Berkeley County Department.

 

In an effort toward TRANSPARENCY, Mr. Schurlknight asked to speak to Cane Bay Plantation Residents regarding the Fire Study and Firehouse at Cane Bay build - I sent email to Cane Bay High School Scheduler to reserve an evening meeting. If meeting space at Cane Bay High School is unavailable due to full schedule, another location will be

discussed.  Issue:  Sufficiently large space availability.  Cane Bay Plantation residents will complete a Form prior to the CBP Community meeting - Name and Question.  Mr. Schurlknight will research responses prior to meeting to ensure correct.  Forms will be available for printing on Website…Speak with Phil Monk (Website Designer) as to implementation.  When all form questions have been responded to, additional questions will be taken time permitting, or plan to return for another session.   All questions/answers placed on our firehouseatcanebay.org website for Cane Bay Plantation resident’s review.  Mr. Schurlknight suggested a separate meeting with Del Webb residents.  We MAY schedule same AFTER/LATER DATE the Cane Bay High School Meeting.

 

Berkeley County MAY establish a Countywide Firehouse Department under which all rural and non-rural Fire Department are included.  Berkeley County MAY consider lessening the amount of Fire Departments (outdated buildings) and establish Central Fire Departments in needed areas with Fire Department, EMTs, Police.  North Road - Sand and Shale - Not Berkeley County issue but a Grambling Brothers issue.  Grambling Brothers will finish the North Road(s) as development moves North as planned.  

Grambling Brothers agreed to build two lanes in Cane Bay Plantation.  Additional lanes may be installed by Berkeley County once the Development is Built out.  

 

(Mr. Schurlknight has reviewed and approved the above for publication on the firehouseatcanebay.org website)

 

Question:  I think the residents who are involved with Tim Stevenson about the Firehouse should ask him if he has received any money or grants recently for the new Firehouse besides the Loan. I have heard a few things about this from a very reliable source and was told he was going to let people know about this but to my knowledge has not. Just my 2 cents. I also agree we shouldn't be the main fundraiser when there are other communities who will benefit from this. They are doing a great job fund raising but it shouldn't be put on just Del Webb.

 

Answer:  Any questions for Chief Stephenson pertaining to other than our Firehouse at Cane Bay Fundraising Committee should be addressed directly to him.  You may do so by going to firehouseatcanebay.org and clicking on his name.  No one will see your question or his response, unless he feels it will benefit the entire Cane Bay Plantation communities.  

 

Thank you for your compliment regarding our doing a great job!   We have published letters in The Cane Bay Living Magazine asking all developments to participate, one attached.  We also advertise on our website noted above.  You will note on our Volunteer Team Listing also attached, that although people have written us they want to volunteer, few have.  Del Webb has had one lady produce two programs that raised approximately $8,000.00.  We have sold raffle tickets to baskets, lottery tickets, (most paid for by our volunteers) and Coupon Books…plus received monetary donations.  We have programs in place through June, however our resort closure has stymied those plans for now but will be rescheduled.  We also have a FIREWISE.EXPO, September 23 on Cane Bay HS grounds and hope you will stimulate others to attend.  We will have fire departments, games, sponsor booths, the whole gamut.  We welcome your participation in whatever way you feel appropriate.  Thank you for writing.

 

Question:  To date, only Del Webb residents have produced Firehouse at Cane Bay Fundraising Events to our knowledge.  A letter was published in The Cane Bay Living Magazine (see attached ) asking all Cane Bay developments to hold events and work with our Treasurer to ensure the funds are properly managed.  Our Website firehouseatcanebay.org has a thermometer and Events listing which shows event held and in plan.    Where is te leaderhip in the other Cane Bay communities?   We alone can't raise the monies neede for everything. 

 

Answer:  All we can do is ask people, apply to their good senses, if they wish to “LET THE OTHER GUY/GAL DO IT”, there is not much we can do.  Our times are changing, people have lots to say about many topics, but action speaks louder than words.  We can only hope they decide to help us with the FIREWISE.EXPO to be held Sunday, September 23, at the Cane Bay High School.  If you would like to be a volunteer on that program or any we have in plan, please do not hesitate to contact me via email.

 

Question:  Just wondering, where is all the money collected for the firehouse  being held and by whom?  If all Cane bay neighborhoods are holding fundraisers there must be a large amount collected so far. Will there be an audit to determine if all the funds are secure and used for their intended purposes?  I have herd some are unwilling to donate any more until they see some accounting for their investment in the project.

 

Answer:  The Firehouse at Cane Bay Fundraising Committee (FACBFC) produces fundraising programs, the funds raised are placed into different accounts:

      
 1)    “Donation Account” at CresCom Bank by FACBFC Treasurer Steven Resnick, CPA. This account was established to facilitate cash and check deposits and allows for the Fundraising Committee to use for items necessary such as:  Opening Checking Account, Website connection expense, purchase of tickets, tablecloths, flatware, decorations to produce events,  Mark Cotone, Director, Eggs Up Owner and Manager, also a CPA and Whitesville Rural Firehouse Moncks Corner, maintains a backup audit accounting process to ensure all funds are properly managed.  
      
 2)    Whitesville Rural Firehouse Moncks Corner - Initiated a Budget Line Item for Firehouse at Cane Bay, which by Federal law may not be used without our permission.  Residents have the option to place funds in either account.  Some feel more comfortable writing their check directly to the Firehouse.  
   
When the Firehouse at Cane Bay is completed the FACBFC will produce a Firehouse Opening Celebration at which we will present Chief Timothy Stephenson with all funds donated. 
    
To date, only Del Webb residents have produced Firehouse at Cane Bay Fundraising Events to our knowledge.  A letter was published in The Cane Bay Living Magazine (see attached ) asking all Cane Bay developments to hold events and work with our Treasurer to ensure the funds are properly managed.  Our Website firehouseatcanebay.org has a thermometer and Events listing which shows event held and in plan.  At this time the Del Webb Resort is closed due to a Mold issue and FACBFC events have had to be rescheduled, but will indeed occur.  
 
Thank you for your inquiries, I do hope you will become a volunteer and help us raise funds for this worthy cause.  

 

Question:  I listened to Monday's Council Meeting via Internet.  Difficult to hear, but from the information gathered and reported, I did not get the feeling that the Fire Study supported building the new Cane Bay Fire Dept.  

Can you tell me what the actual report supported?  Will we be going ahead and building our new Fire Dept on Cane Bay Blvd?  All I can see from the road is that the land has been cleared and lots of standing water - no changes over long period of time.  

 

Answer:  The Comprehensive Fire Study was not looking specifically at one single location but rather the entire County Fire Protection Service. The Report supported the Fire Chief’s Claim the Fire Protection service, as a whole, is underfunded, understaffed, and some areas of the County are not being properly supported by their fire department because of these factors. The report made numerous recommendations to help move the fire service forward and the Berkeley County Fire Chief’s Association is Working closely with Councilman Newell, Chairman of Justice and Public Safety Committee to begin implementing some of the changes to better the deliver fire and rescue service throughout Berkeley County. 

 

Question: What was the outcome of the report?  Will we be going ahead with building this new Fire Dept or not?  If so, when will construction begin?

 

Answer:  The report was not complete and was missing information from several departments that either did not have or failed to provide the information, the study was tabled until all the information from those departments reported the information. This information is extremely important in helping the Council Members and particular Mr. Newell make the best possible adjustments, corrections or consolidation decisions to improve the service. Once the information is collected and revisions or corrections to the report are made Council will work closely with the Fire Chief’s and District Boards to develop and implement plans to improve the service throughout the County. 

 

The plans for the Cane Bay Fire Station were not a consideration of the Fire Study; the department is moving forward in building the fire station. The department has accepted the Federal Loan and this loan requires a number of steps to be completed prior to building this fire station. We have sent out (RFPs) Request for Proposals to Banks for the Construction Loan and Annual Auditors. We have completed the 10% design phase of the facility and we are just about ready to submit the Architectural and Site Plans for review and approval from Berkeley County, I am not sure how long that we take to be completed. Once we have approved plans we will then bid the project as required by Federal Law (USDA); once the contractor is selected we will then have the ground breaking ceremony and construction on the fire station will begin.

As you can see there are many moving parts which may cause any date that I provide for either groundbreaking or construction to be constantly moved or postponed. Therefore, I am reluctant to provide a specific date or time frame for construction or completion of the fire station.  

 

Question:  What is the monetary goal we are striving for?

 

Answer: The Website shows $100.000.00 as our goal.  At this time, I have additional funds from Coupon Books.  In addition, there will be funds coming from future planned events e.g.,   Celebration Happiness, LowCounty Classics Dance, The Fisherman’s Bistro Gift, the Quilter’s Club Quilt Auction (to date bid is $250.00), and a Fundraising activity each month until June, then we have the FIREWISE.EXPO for September planned.  All fund will be given to our Treasurer and will ask him to continue sending the total to Phil Monk to update the Website.  

 

Question:  What are the most expensive investments. (Perhaps we can barter)?   

 

Answer:  We will give what we raise to the cause and it would be up to those who purchase items to barter, bargain basement shop, whatever.  They already have a commitment of free internet I believe.  

 

Question:  How exactly is our fundraising money going to purchase these items including uniforms?   

 

Answer:  There is a separate line item in the Whitesville Rural Fire Department Budget for the Firehouse at Cane Bay Fundraising, that includes the first Exchange Club Brick funds of $15,000.00.  We now have the NEW Brick program on our Firehouse at Cane Bay website and residents are purchasing Bricks.  Once we finish our Fundraising program, when the Firehouse is built, by law (according to Mark Cotone) all funds will be designated to those items you mentioned, e.g., uniforms, office equipment…we may not raise all the funds needed and Whitesville Rural Fire Department can certainly seek donations from various business for such office equipment.  To outfit a Fireman the Chief said expense is about $9,000.  

 

 

Question: Is there an actual date to begin  to break ground for the firehouse?

 

Answer: Currently there is no official date, we are navigating the system and will announce a date when we have fulfilled all the requirements and selected a contractor.

 

Question: Once ground is broken - how long before the firehouse will be ready to go into service?

 

Answer: This again is a tough question to answer as weather and delays may play a role in actual Certificate of Occupancy. The Architects estimate 8-10 months to complete the station but they also are reserved about that time line based on the weather and other unforeseen factors that may affect the CO.

 

Question: When we met at Four Seasons, you indicated that ground breaking would occur in December 2017. Is it scheduled? Thank you.
 
Answer: During the signing for the Loan we announced that the Groundbreaking could possibly take place in the first quarter of 2018, however, the administrative requirements for obtaining a Construction Loan as well as the plan review process and bidding of the entire project may move the groundbreaking back a little. As we move closer to the bid process we will inform citizens of a new date; to continue to set a date only to have that date moved because of issues that continually arise is not a good idea. 
The groundbreaking will be published on all appropriate websites and media outlets to ensure the broadest dissemination of the information. Chief Stephenson

 

Question:How will the proposed $100 tax increase benefit the Whitesville Fire Department?

 

Answer:The increase will generate approximately $300,000 to the Whitesville Budget.  Today there are approximately 3,000 homes in the Cane Bay development.  $150,000 will be allocated for the Fire Station Loan Payment and $150,000 will be allocated for additional career staffing – this allows one Firefighter/Paramedic per shift.

 

Question:Is this going to be an increase in fire fees, or is this increase earmarked to fund the county-wide fire department the county is considering?

 

Answer:This increase will affect only the residents of the Cane Bay Development (Fire District 16, Tax District T-08).

Whitesville Fire Department is an independent contractor that provides fire service to our area. Raising the property tax would not help them; fire fees need to be increased to have any impact on their bottom line.

This is not an increase in property taxes, but is an increase in the fire fee for Fire District 16, Tax District T-08.

Approximately 300 to 600 homes per year are built in the development adding $30,000 to $60,000 to the budget annually.  This increase will go to adding additional career or part-time staffing until the station is fully staffed.  Additional funds, after staffing is completed, will replace apparatus – updating the aging fleet.

At some point during this process (before build out of development) the budget will stabilize and fire fees in the Cane Bay area can return to the County assessed fees for the Fire Service; this is dependent upon the Tax District Board and how they want their station staffed and maintained.

 

Question:What is the population and/or home population within the Whitesville Rural Firehouse area of responsibility?

 

Answer:Cane Bay is entitled for 10,878 dwelling units.  As of August, 3,219 dwelling units have been permitted and/or built. For population, per the US Census Bureau, the average Household Size in Berkeley County is 2.75 person.  So, if we multiply 3,219 x 2.75 = 8,852.25.  If we look at the Whitesville Fire District, the estimated number of 6,200 total dwelling units and 270 commercial buildings (based on Assessor’s Data for the parcels located within the Fire District). 

 

Question:How many Firehouses will be in the Whitesville Fire District once Cane Bay Plantation is built?

 

Answer:When the Cane Bay station becomes operational the Whitesville FD will have three stations.  Also, Medic #10  (Berkeley County EMS) is located on the border of Whitesville, Longridge and Pine Ridge fire districts.  Moncks Corner Rural is its own fire district.  It has three stations.  The town of Moncks Corner is a municipal fire department.  It has one station and Medic #3 (Berkeley County EMS) is located within the town's boundaries.

 

Question:Some people are wondering why the station wasn't built for the 5 dollars the tax was raised 2 years ago?  Berkeley Independent Article - August 2015

 

Answer:$70.00 of the $75.00 fee goes to each district based on number of homes in the district.  The remaining $5.00 goes into the pool fund that is used to address issues regardless of district.

 

Answers to General Questions:

  • Chief Stephenson is the Fire Chief of Whitesville FD and Brad Henson is the Fire Marshal. Berkeley County is divided up into 34 separate fire districts and each has its own Fire Chief and Fire Marshal. Some don't have a fire marshal and that duty is done by the fire chief.
  • There is no Berkeley County Fire Chief or Fire Marshal.
  • The Firehouse at Cane Bay will be the third station for the Whitesville FD.
  • The Whitesville FD covers parts of the city limits of Moncks Corner and Summervile. The rest of Moncks Corner is serviced by Moncks Corner City and Moncks Corner Rural FDs.
  • Volvo is way out of the Whitesville fire district. The Volvo property itself is covered by two fire districts, the Pine Ridge Rural and Lebanon Rural fire districts. All fire districts have mutual aid agreements to assist each other in the event of a large emergency.

 

MARTY RYAN IS BOTH A WHITEVILLE RURAL FIREHOUSE BOARD OF DIRECTOR AND LIAISON TO THE FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE.  HE HAS THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS ON MY NOTES REGARDING COUNCILMAN SCHURLKNIGHT’S COMMENTS.   MY RESPONSE REGARDING MARTY RYAN’S COMMENTS ARE BELOW EACH SEGMENT.  AS OF OCTOBER 17, 2017

 

Monday, October 16, 2017, USDA Loan Check will be presented to Chief Stephenson, Whiteville Rural

Firehouse, Moncks Corner, with Mr. Schurlknight present. 

 

The meeting in question is for the Whitesville Fire District Board of Directors (WFD BOD) to meet with Ms. Toomes, USDA, to discuss the terms of the USDA loan and then to make a decision as to whether or not to accept the loan.  No check will be presented to Chief Stephenson.

 

RESPONSE - COUNCILMAN JACK SCHURLKNIGHT NOTES WERE WRITTEN WITH HIS APPROVAL. HE USED THE TERM “CHECK” NOT HAVING FULL INFORMATION ON THE METHOD OR PROCESS IN THE DELIVERY METHOD REGARDING HOW THE FUNDS WOULD BE RECEIVED.

 

The USDA Loan Check is designated for the Firehouse at Cane Bay build.  The check will be held in abeyance until the Fire Study is completed October 26 and Berkeley County Council/Committees e.g., Finance, Engineering, etc., review and make recommendations.

 

The loan is for the construction of the Cane Bay Fire Station that will be named the Jeff Worsham Memorial Station.  Jeff was a Whitesville firefighter who died in the line of duty.  The use of the funds available in the loan will be determined by the WFD BOD.  The loan agreement is with the Whitesville Fire Department, LLC.  The execution of the funds will be based on an assessment of ability to service the loan payments, which will dictate the design of the station that will be built with projected completion in December 2018.  There are three design options currently under review.

 

RESPONSE - THAT MAKES EXCELLENT SENSE

 

I do not understand the comment that the “check” will be held in abeyance until the council completes its review and makes recommendations based on the study.  First, there is no check, it is a loan with a maximum value of $3M.  Not all of the value of the loan needs to be executed.

 

RESPONSE - AGAIN, MR. SCHURLKNIGHT ASSUMED IT WOULD BE A CHECK, BUT AS WE NOW KNOW THE FIREHOUSE ASSUMED THE LOAN AS BROADCAST THIS MORNING ON FACEBOOK.

 

 

If the loan is not available to the Whitesville RVFD, contracting will not be able to be executed and start of construction on the new station (design TBD) will be delayed indefinitely.  I am not sure what the impact of this will be on USDA continuing to make the loan available. 

 

My guess is that the council will not make any decisions on what to do regarding fire service recommendations in the study until after the November 2018 elections.  Regardless the decision on fire services by the county council it will come with tax increases across the unincorporated areas of the county.

 

THIS IS AN EXCELLENT EXPLANATION.  WE BOTH KNOW DIFFERENCES IN BERKELEY COUNTY FIREHOUSE TAXES WOULD SPUR QUESTIONS AS TO WHO WOULD BE TAXED.  IF ONLY UNINCORPORATED AREAS, RESIDENTS WOULD ASK HOW MANY, AND WHO ARE THEY?   RESIDENTS ARE SURPRISED, WHEN CONCERNED ABOUT “CANE BAY BEING THE ONLY ONES TO HAVE TO PAY FOR THEIR FIRE DEPT, WHEN I MENTION SANGAREE – AWARE OF ONE OTHER AREA THAT IS PAYING FOR THEIR FIREHOUSE IN SOME MANNER.  THERE ARE PROBABLY MORE THAN THE THREE MENTIONED. 

 

 

Question: Considering moving ahead with “Firehouse at Cane Bay" build while the Committees are assessing the Fire Study

Information, may have Firehouse by end of 2018.

  

Response: The answer to this is yes if there is no interference with the loan process.  The WRVFD and Board feel it is imperative for the welfare and safety of the residents of Cane Bay that there be a station in Cane Bay by December 2018.

 

Question: Berkeley County MAY establish a Countywide Firehouse Department under which all rural and non-rural Fire

Department are included.

 

True.  But when?

 

MR. SCHURLKNIGHT DID NOT MENTION A TIMELINE. 

 

 

Response: Berkeley County MAY consider lessening the amount of Fire Departments (outdated buildings) and establish Central

Fire Departments in needed areas with Fire Department, EMTs, Police.  

 

I believe this is unlikely.  The problem we now have is the two existing stations in the Whitesville Fire District are too far from Cane Bay.  Reducing the number of stations throughout the unincorporated areas will exacerbate an already over extended fire service capability.  The metric should be every home within each fire district be no more than five miles from a fire station,  This will also be true if the county decides to transition to regional or county wide fire service.

 

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