Pender Co. fire departments merger will mean tax hike

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Submitted: Thu, 06/13/2013 - 8:45pm
Updated: Thu, 06/13/2013 - 9:27pm

BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — Pender County of residents could soon see a change in their emergency services.

After a week of discussions Pender EMS and four other volunteer fire departments have tentatively agreed to merge.

The new organization, which has yet to be named, would include Hampstead, Sloop Point, Long Creek Grady and Surf City Volunteer Fire Departments as well as Pender EMS.

Pender EMS Director Woody Sullivan says the merger will enhance emergency services in the districts involved and cut down on overlapping services.

There is a slight tax increase involved, but County Commissioner David Williams says it’s worth it.

“Let’s just think about response times. Let’s think about first response times for wrecks. Let’s think about medical calls,” Williams said. “There are some duplications in services, but this just takes what we feel are good assets, and a good foundation and goes on to the next level.”

Because there is a tax increase involved, the deal is not set in stone. County commissioners will vote to finalize the deal at Monday’s meeting.


  • NEPender says:

    I thought this move was supposed to “save taxpayer money”, not cost the taxpayers more….

  • Carl S says:

    They aren’t merging and mainstreaming. They are joining and probably expanding. Of course, any reason to tax working people. Everyone benefits….right?

  • Pender co resident says:

    You are right, this wil raise your taxes. But what you pay in increased taxes you will make up for with a decreased iso rating and better fire coverage. A decreased ISO rating means that you pay less on your home owners insurance. So you pay more taxes, but pay less insurance. You just have to decide where you would rather have your money going, to the insurance companys, or to the fire departments that protect you and your family. I know where I want my money going.

  • Wilmington Observer says:

    Usually (but not when government is involved, apparently), when entities merge and you do AWAY with the “duplications of service” there would be a, corresponding, “reduction in cost”. Someone PLEASE explain why, if multiple “non-profits” are merging, there would be anything other than a tax DECREASE??

    Wilmington Observer

  • UpInArms says:

    I live in the Long Creek district and I could care less about the merger. That is until I read that it will result in a possible tax/fee increase. I am already in the worst fire code rating in the state (10 of 10 baby!) and now the Commissioners are going to raise my taxes for the privilege of having the highest insurance rate in the state??? You better knock my fire code down a notch or two before raising my rate/fee without a solid justification. Trimming the fat is great, but since when does it add cost to the taxpayer?

    I cannot imagine paying more than I already am, but yearly the insurance bill comes in higher, always with the justification of hurricanes doing so much damage and the threat of fire due to my rating. I can’t do anything about the hurricanes, but I can strongly oppose and speak loudly against any increase in taxes or fees due to a merger that provides me with no additional service benefit. Ridiculous…

    Get these fire companies to start hustling, add some hydrants, or whatever else that can be done, but you need to lower my fire code rating if you raise my taxes/fees for a merger.

  • LongCreekResident says:

    UpInArms, I too live in the long creek district and also have volunteered with the department for years. I understand your frustration in regards to your insurance rating being a 10, myself and the Chief and the prior chief’s of the department have worked on placing a substation on the 421 corridor to bring the homeowners rating down to the current 6 rating, but our biggest hurdle was the tax revenue in that area not being able support a substation. As for your fire tax rate lucky for you your fire tax will remain the same that you paid last year. The only fire tax hike is on the east side of Pender, not in our area. I encourage you that if you feel that strongly then please show up Monday night at the county commissioners meeting and voice your thoughts (good or bad). Additional hydrants have been place in service to help with insurance ratings but Long Creek’s rating like most of the other VFD’s in the county are based on water shuttles because we have been advised by Pender County that the hydrants are not for fire suppression, they are considered “flush points”. I do encourage you to contact the fire department and ask questions about this merger. This merger is a pretty good plan, the other plan will be Pender County taking it over and our fire tax going through the roof. I can tell you that with this merger that substation on 421 will become a reality within the next couple of years. The only thing we will notice is a quicker response time due to the fact that we will have 24/7 paid coverage in the station assisting the volunteers. Thank you for your concerns.

  • in the area says:

    read the other news reports and you will see they are going to be staffing firefighters in these stations and they will be getting YOU and better rating.

  • ES says:

    At least they are honest. Only t he government can figure a way to cut duplicated services and have it cost more. Lets see? Two departments send two fire trucks to the same call. You cut one department out of the equation. Most people would figure it would cost about half as much but not the government, With the government it calls for a tax increase. Just ask New Hanover County how much they saved when the Wilmington and the County merged the water and sewer and formed CFPUA. Most are paying double or more than what was paid before.

  • LongCreekResident says:

    I too live in the long creek fire district and have volunteered with them for years as well. You have every right to voice your concerns and I encourage you and anyone else to let the county know Monday how you all feel about. As for the tax increase, you living in the district will not see a tax increase, you will pay the same thing you paid last year. As far as your rating goes, I’m sorry you are one of the residents that live in our district not covered by our rating, myself along with the Chief and past chiefs before have tried placing a substation on 421 to reduce you all to atleast a 9 if not a 6 (our current rating). Our biggest hurdle was funding, in that part of the district the funding wasn’t there to maintain and run a substation. With this merger you can see a substation out that way sooner than later (3-5 years). The only tax increase will be in the Eastside of Pender (Hampstead, Scotts Hill, and Sloop Point). Overall this merger is a good deal not only for the volunteers but for the citizens as well, likewise in our district we all will see quicker responses due to paid staffing in the station 24/7/365. I also encourage you to contact the fire department, they already have paid staffing during the day and they will be more than glad to answer any questions you may have. Again thank you for your concerns and I hope if you feel that strongly about it then please be at the meeting Monday night.

  • LongCreekResident says:

    For those that have concerns and/or objections to this merger you need to be at the public meeting they are having next week. I’m sure a press release will be sent out but if you have concerns then be there and voice them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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