Newly elected commission holds first meeting for West Florence fire district

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Public safety, tax dollars and a lawsuit were all discussed Monday night at the first meeting of the West Florence Fire Department's Board of Commissioners.

The newly elected officials oversee fire mileage and operational needs for the West Florence Fire Department.

"We want to make sure we have the best for our guys, that way they can go home at the end of the day," Chairman Dustin Fails said.

At the meeting, the group voted to raise the amount of money property owners in the West Florence area pay for fire protection.

"We have been operating off of $800,000 to $900,000. We have been getting buy, but with the addition of the new station we are going to have to hire additional personnel," Fails explained.

The fire mileage in the West Florence Fire District increased from 8 mills up to 12.75 mills with Monday's vote.

The group originally wanted mileage to be 11.72, but a wrench was thrown into that plan.

"If they choose to go the lawsuit route and they start at the circuit court, it could be very expensive," Attorney Jay Jordan said. He's not the district's attorney but did give legal advice to the commissioners.

Florence County Council voted last week to pursue legal action against the West Florence Fire District, in a 5 -3 votes calling it illegal.

"[A millage of] 1.72 was perfect. And then we get the bomb lowered and it's going to cost us $100,000 to $125,000 base to respond and litigate this inevitable lawsuit and there goes another mill," Vice- Chairman Linda Lang-Gipko said.

The districts' commissioners said if a lawsuit is filed, needs like new air packs will have to wait.

"We're going to be making some cuts, not big cuts, but it's going to be some safety things that we need to replace," Lang-Gipko said.

Commissioners say if legal action doesn't happen the extra mill added for legal costs can be used in other capacities.

Those living in the West Florence area can expect to see those added mills kick-in this coming October.

It's not clear when Florence County plans to file that lawsuit.

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