Lawsuit: Florence County vs. West Florence

The lawsuit filed by Florence County against the newly formed fire district. | Source: Ken Baker
The lawsuit filed by Florence County against the newly formed fire district. | Source: Ken Baker

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A Florence County legal battle is going to cost taxpayers.

On Tuesday, Florence County filed a lawsuit against the West Florence Fire District stating it's an illegal special purpose tax district.

Florence County's Chairman said in total, the three legal actions involving the West Florence Fire District cost a little more than $100,000.

The county initiated two of the legal actions; the other was filed against the county.

The most recent lawsuit filed Tuesday, lists the five commissioners of the West Florence Fire District Board and the state as defendants.

"Quite frankly, the only way you will ever know whether what we say is unconstitutional on many counts, the only way you'll know that is in a courtroom," Florence County Chairman James Schofield said.

On Tuesday, each of the council members and the district were served with papers from Florence County," Chairman of the West Florence Fire District Dustin said.

The lawsuit is almost identical to the one the county tried to take to the State Supreme Court just a few months ago.

The issue at stake is the tax millage that supports the county's fire district.

"Everyone should pay the exact same millage - whatever that is - it takes to provide fire service," Schofield said.

Schofield said everyone who lives in the county pays the same millage rate for sheriff's office patrol and EMS, and fire service should be no different.

But the West Florence Fire District disagrees.

"So there are 75 other special purpose fire tax districts in the state, so I'm not sure why we are getting singled out," Fails said.

One of those, South Lynches, is in Florence County.

A lot of people have questions about why it can be its own special purpose fire district.

"South Lynches is a total different situation. It was created 30-something years ago because Florence County at that time accused, refused to take over fire service in that area," Schofield said.

At this point, the West Florence Fire District doesn't have an attorney, but plans to get one by Monday.

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