County approves ordinance to sell $3 million bond, add fire stations

Billy Cannada Staff Writer

October 21, 2013

PICKENS COUNTY — Three new fire stations will begin to take shape in rural Pickens County over the course of the next year.

Pickens County Council approved the third reading of an ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of a $3 million general obligation bond to construct the three new stations at Monday night’s monthly meeting.

Pickens County Administrator Chappell Hurst said $2.5 million of that money will be allocated to the Pickens Rural Fire District for buildings, trucks and equipment. Hurst said the other $500,000 will go to the Liberty Fire District for the purposes of constructing another sub-station.

“This provides the county with the ability to go out on the market and sell bonds to obtain the money to finance this project,” Hurst said. “This won’t affect anyone in the surrounding fire districts. It will only be the residents in the two affected districts that will pay back all of this money.”

Hurst said the new stations in the Pickens Rural Fire District will cover a majority of the population

“We’re going to build three fire stations and buy new fire trucks and all the equipment the firemen will need,” Hurst said. “These new stations will cover about 80 percent of the population, making most residents within about a mile and a half of a fire station.”

“This would give residents the biggest advantage—in terms of ISO ratings—they could get,” Hurst said. “In turn they would have lower insurance premiums.”

The change will come next summer when the fire district’s current contract with the City of Pickens expires.

“We had a contract, prior to this, with the City of Pickens. Therefore, the district itself didn’t own any equipment,” Hurst said. “Everything that is needed for an entire fire department has got to be purchased initially to get this department up and running. That’s why it’s going to be so expensive in the beginning.”

Those costs include nearly $250,000 for each new fire truck. The county is hoping to add six trucks, which will include three new and three used trucks.

“We have applied for some grants that would help fund both salaries and equipment purchases,” Hurst said. “If we get those grants, it would reduce the costs on the operating side and on the capital side.”

The project will have to be accomplished by July 1 of 2014 when the current contract expires, Hurst said. Folks residing in the district will continue to pay a $75 fire fee, according to the administrator.

“Once these expenses are paid off and the debt is gone in the future, there probably won’t be a need for a fire fee,” Hurst said.

The main station will be located on Shady Grove Road in Pickens. The two other stations will be located on Wilson Way and Fox Squirrel Ridge Road.