09/22/10 — Commissioners approve fire service district changes

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Commissioners approve fire service district changes

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 22, 2010 1:46 PM

The few speakers at Tuesday morning's public hearing on the county's new fire service districts were more interested in clarifying which district their property is in than in what the districts are and how they will work.

And following the 15-minute hearing, county commissioners unanimously approved the new districts that become effective during the 2011-12 budget year.

One speaker, Ray Smith, questioned why some of his property on Central Heights Road that had been in the New Hope Fire District was now in the Pinewood District.

Fire Marshal Brian Taylor said that all of the property on Central Heights Road had been placed in the Pinewood District in January 2009.

Taylor explained that the process has been ongoing for several years as a way to simplify the county's fire maps from three to just one following recommendations from the state fire marshal's office.

That goal was partially completed last year when commissioners combined the insurance districts with the fire protection districts that included Central Heights Road. Tuesday's action completed the process by creating fire service (tax) districts that mirror the single insurance and fire districts lines.

The changes also were designed to eliminate overlapping districts and to ensure that the districts covered the entire county. Under the old districts there were some areas that fell outside a district.

Correcting that required the creation last year of several six-mile districts -- Dudley, Elroy, Eureka, Northern Wayne, Grantham, Indian Springs, Jordans Chapel, Little River, Mar Mac, Waylin, New Hope, Oakland, Rosewood, Smith Chapel, Thoroughfare and Moseley Hall (overlap from LaGrange in Lenoir County).

Five-mile districts are Antioch, Arrington, Belfast, East Wayne, Faro, Nahunta, Patetown, Pleasant Grove, Pinewood, Polly Watson, Pricetown, Saulston, Seven Springs and Boon Hill (overlap from Johnston County).

People who live in a fire protection district might receive a break on their fire insurance premiums based on the department's insurance rating. Previously, homes served by a fire department did not receive any breaks on their insurance premium if they were located in an area that fell outside of a fire department's insurance district.

That also meant those fire departments received no fire tax revenue from those properties.

Fire districts were created by public vote and most matched rural fire protection districts, the area served by a fire station, that in essence are fire tax districts.

The districts could only be changed by another vote. However, changes in state legislation allow counties to create new taxable districts including fire districts.

These new fire service district lines mirror the updated fire protection districts approved in January 2009.

Taylor said the new districts would not change the service or delivery of services currently being provided in the county. Nor is there any additional tax.

Fire departments will continue to contract with the county and provide fire protection for their respective fire protection districts. The departments also will continue to submit a budget request to the county based on fire tax rates approved by commissioners, he said.

In other business, commissioners approved the following subdivision final plats, all of which had been recommended by the county Planning Board:

* Larry Sullivan, two lots on the north side of Fussell Road in New Hope Township; owner/developer Larry Sullivan estate.

* L.G. King, one lot on the east side of Camp Jubilee Road on Indian Springs Township; owner/developer Flora Strickland.

* Santos Lopez, two lots east of Camp Jubilee Road in Indian Springs Township; owner/developer Mr. and Mrs. Santos Lopez.

* William R. and Leah Fields, one lot on the north side of Nor-Am Road in Buck Swamp Township; owner, operator William R. and Leah Fields.

* Angela Hood Hancock, one lot on the west side of Falling Creek Church Road in Grantham Township; owners/developers Grover and Molly Hood.

* Westpointe Manor, revision of lot 19 divided into three lots on the north side of Outlaw Road in Brogden Township; owner/developer Haywood Outlaw.

* Paul Kent Joyner, one lot on the south side of Selah Church Road in Grantham Township; owner/developer Anthony Edwards.

Commissioners did not hold their normal 8 a.m. briefing. The board went into closed session at 8:05 a.m. and returned to open session at 8:55 a.m.