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Pender Co. fire departments merger will mean tax hike

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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.

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