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ONLY ON 3: Fire merger could cost county $250,000

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Fire merger could cost county $250,000

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Volunteer firefighters could get hosed, and taxpayers could pick up the $250,000 tab. Tonight New Hanover County Commissioners will meet to discuss consolidating paid and volunteer fire services, but a merger could be expensive.

By consolidating fire services the county will end its relationships with the volunteer firefighters. Ending that relationship will violate an agreement signed more than 10 years ago and cost the county $250,000.

In 1999 Federal Point Volunteer Firefighters gave the county $250,000 toward a new building in exchange for a 20-year service contract. But if the county combines volunteer and paid staff, the contract will come to an end 10 years early. By ending the partnership the county will have to pay back the money federal point contributed.

"I requested that a promissory note be drawn up for that money in case of consolidation or something came along and we wouldn't be out $250,000," said Harold Woods, president of the Federal Point Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors.

Federal Point volunteers say they'll invest the money back into the community once they're paid back.

County manager Bruce Shell says the county took this money into account when planning for the merger, so it won't mean any additional cost for taxpayers.

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