Residents from Deerfield and Country Club Acres say they been working on securing better fire protection for their neighborhoods for a couple of years now. They’ve not exactly been told no, but their quest, for newly established fire district lines, has opened communication between members of Cheraw Town Council and Chesterfield County Council. Those conversations have caused both councils to re-consider the current 10-year contract that calls for the county to pay the Town of Cheraw $200,000 per year for fire services.
More than a dozen residents attended Cheraw Town Council’s briefing meeting Tuesday evening to learn more about the progress of the re-negotiating efforts. “The county has submitted their proposal,” said Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram, which is basically to increase the amount of the contract to $300,000 per year.
“What we need to do, as a full council, is determine what is fair,” said Ingram. If the county is willing to give up their responsibility for that area, Ingram said, then the town will have to have more money for taking on those responsibilities.
“It’s a win-win situation for us and the town, as we see it,” said Roger Jones, a resident of Country Club Acres. According to Jones, had the issue of re-establishing the fire districts lines not been brought into question, the town would not have had the opportunity to re-negotiate their contract with the county.
The neighborhoods in question fall within the five mile radius of protection with the Cheraw Fire Department. The problem is, years ago, when the Cash Rural Fire Department was formed, Juniper Creek was established as the cut off line. Deerfield and Country Club acres are within five miles of town, but are on the other side of Juniper Creek.
With an ISO rating of 4, protection under the Cheraw Fire Department would mean much lower insurance rates for the residents. The Cash Rural Fire Department has a rating of 9.
“Nine is the highest rating you can have, next to … no protection,” said Jones.
With four members of town council present, a motion was made to enter into executive session to discuss the specifics of the contract. When council emerged nearly 45 minutes later, they had decided on a percentage based formula for sharing costs with the county that tallies out to about $300,000 per year.
That proposal calls for the town to pay 62 percent of the Cheraw Fire Department’s budget, and the county to pay 38 percent. It also calls for the county to pay 38 percent of any capital purchases.
If the county agrees to the town’s proposal, Ingram said, there will be an increase during the first budget year, 2013-14, of just $50,000. The next year will add the same, bringing them up to the agreed amount. From there, Ingram said, the contract will be re-visited each year.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.