Florence County moves to take legal action against West Florence Fire District

Florence County, SC (WMBF) The West Florence Fire District will soon face a lawsuit and Florence County Council is behind the motion.

The battle may happen in circuit court.

This is the second time this year county council has brought a lawsuit against the West Florence Fire District.

Back in August, the State Supreme Court decided it would not hear the case, so this time council will file with the circuit court.

Florence County Councilman James Schofield, along with four other councilmen, said House Bill 5225, which created the West Florence Fire District doesn't say where the district specifically begins and ends and that means it really isn't valid.

"You buy a house, you get a legal description. It tells you to go 100 feet this way and you turn right and so many degrees and feet this way," Florence County Councilman James Schofield said.

Schofield also said the election held just this past Tuesday, which elected a board to run the West Florence Fire District, was illegal.

"Five people were elected to the fire district board. Three of those people either work for or are a part of that fire district, so the fire district governs the fire district. I guess it would be nice if the employees of Florence County could be a part of county council. They could take care of themselves," Schofield mentioned.

Councilman Willard Dorrietty was one of three councilmen who voted not to sue the West Florence Fire District.

"We heard all the reasons for consolidating, like there were improprieties in other fire departments. West Florence has never had one. There have never been problems with finances and there has never been a problem with response time to fires," Councilman Willard Dorriety said.

If West Florence were to join the Florence County Fire District, the people living there would have had to pay more in fire protection, because their millage is currently set lower than any other area in the county.

County council has set fire millage across the county at 20.5 mills, but this doesn't apply to those living in West Florence.

But the county's millage may soon increase.

On Thursday, county council voted to add seven mills plus two to help pay off old debt.

WMBF News  asked Chairman Schofield why that increase is needed.

He says the 20.5 mills you are currently paying will not support the $3.8 million needed to fund the Florence County Fire District.

Schofieldsays 20.5 mills was set under the assumption that the West Florence Fire was a part of the Florence County Fire District.

"If we win it then 20.5 is enough. The Supreme Court says they are not going to hear it. You got to go to the circuit court. It's going to take sometime who knows maybe a year," Schofield said.

The proposed property tax will not kick in until the ordinance passes two more readings.

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