Foothills Fire Service area seeks public opinion

Published 11:37 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Commissioners of the Foothills Fire Service Area are seeking public opinion about the formation of a new special purpose fire district. Two meetings are planned. The first is in the Tryon Fire Department on August 12, at 7 p.m. and the second is one week later in the Landrum Fire Department on August 19, at 7 p.m.

About 18 months ago, the personnel of the Landrum Fire District, (LFD), with the approval of the administration of the City of Landrum, proposed to the Commissioners of the Foothills Fire Service Area, (FFSA), that a Bi-County Special Purpose Fire District, (BCSPFD), be formed which would include all of the LFD and about 22 percent of the FFSA which is the portion of the FFSA contracted to provide fire service by the LFD. The other 78 percent of the FFSA receives fire service by contract from the Tryon Fire Department (TFD). The FFSA covers about 4.5 square miles of the northeast corner of Greenville County.

The approval of this proposal would improve both fire and medical rescue safety over time. There is a very good chance that homeowner’s insurance premiums would decrease.  In order for these improvements to take place, there would most likely be an increase in fire taxes in the new district. The present millage rate in both LFD and FFSA is 0.0105 and the millage rate of fire districts surrounding both districts is about 0.022 to 0.024.

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In order for this BCSPFD to be formed it would require the following: (1) the approval of the FFSA Commissioners if they felt this was in the best interest of the public being served by the parts of the area, (2) the approval of the both county councils, (3) that approval of the upstate legislative delegation of this area, and the passage of a state law. The Law Firm of Pope Zeigler has done some preliminary work with the City of Landrum on this proposal and the FFSA has talked to this firm. This Law Firm’s specialty is working with government entities and special purpose districts. This Firm’s feeling is that the proposal of the BCSPFD is very doable. This Firm will most likely be used to establish the new fire district

The commissioners are considering two side issues to this proposal.

Should this new BCSPFD include the whole FFSA? The main reasoning for using the whole FFSA is money. The FFSA as it is now will most likely never have the tax base to support the funds to be self-sufficient and loosing 22 percent of its tax base will make FFSA less likely to be self-sufficient.  The commissioners could decide to let the FFSA be as it is: protected by contract with the TFD and LFD.

– article submitted
by Richard M. Locke