Members of Cheraw Town Council attended a briefing Tuesday evening that focused on the possibilities of re-negotiating the town’s current contract with Chesterfield County Council concerning monetary support of the Cheraw Fire Department for service to county residents. As it stands, the county is obligated to pay the Town of Cheraw a flat fee of $200,000 per year, until 2018.
Residents in the Cheraw neighborhoods of Deerfield and Country Club Acres, which are outside the city limits, have requested to be part of the Cheraw Fire Department; as the department has recently gotten much better ISO ratings. These neighborhoods are currently protected by the Cash Rural Fire Department.
Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram, who has been quick to say that deal with the county was not signed while he was in office, also said the contracted figure falls about $160,000 short each year of what it should be proportionately.
Members of the town’s finance committee, Randy Butler, John K. Melton and Jacqueline Ellerbe-Shannon, met recently with members of county council to begin those negotiations.
“They (Chesterfield County Council) want to do the right thing,” said Butler, indicating they are willing to negotiate the terms of the contract. What they offered “is to pay 33 percent,” he said, “based on what had been done in years prior to the current contract.”
Preliminary suggestions from county council would have the annual amount paid to the town increase over the next three years, topping out at $300,000, the finance committee reported.
“I’m glad they are receptive to negotiations,” said Ingram, “but that’s still not paying their fair share.”
“We need to do what’s in the best interest for the town and the taxpayers of Cheraw,” said Ingram.
In any event, said Councilman Billy Wallace Jr., “I do not want taxes to go up.”
Although the matter had been placed in the hands of the town’s finance committee, it was suggested Tuesday that the full council be involved in the negotiations and decision process.
“What we want to have, as close as possible, is a level playing field,” said Ingram.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of Cheraw Town Council is Tuesday, March 12, at 5:30 p.m., upstairs at Cheraw Town Hall.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at email@example.com.