Emilie Greene 0

Keowee Springs Fire Station

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Jennifer Willis

Trey Whitehurst

Neil Smith

Tom Ponder

Randy Crenshaw

Ensley Feemster

Tom Hendricks, Interim County Administrator

The undersigned are full or part-time residents and taxpayers of the Springs Fire District.

We wish to apprise Council of our objection to the annual fire district meeting held Wednesday February 24, 2016 at the Springs fire station:

1. The meeting notice was 7 days, not 15 days required by ordinance.

2. The meeting was not conducted by an Advisory Board of fire district residents as no such board exists due to County Council decision.

3. County Council did not act as the de facto Springs Board and conduct the meeting

4. The meeting was conducted by the Vineyards Fire Board whose President stressed they are not the Springs Board.

5. A 2017 budget was prepared and presented by the Vineyards Board. There was no prior inputs to the presented budget by any Springs residents.

6. A competing budget previously provided to the County that includes a proposed contract with Six Mile, prepared by a committee of Springs residents, was not presented at the public meeting.

We recommend approval of the contract and budget submitted by the Springs ad hoc committee. That plan includes a contract with the nearby Six Mile fire station to provide station oversight of the Springs station.

The benefits of the alliance with Six Mile are substantial and include:

1. Served area of the Springs station is primarily Six Mile. In the last year, approximately 200 of 240 calls by the Springs station were to the Six Mile district via the automatic aid agreement. Further, the 40 calls that were inside the Springs district, were mainly public service and routine alarm system related. Accordingly, the Six Mile Chief already manages the Springs firefighters when out on approximately 90% of non routine calls, as such calls are in the Six Mile fire district.

2. The proposed Six Mile alliance is substantially more cost effective. It simply is a cost burden to send Vineyards firefighters to the Springs for the exclusive purpose of back up in case of rare second concurrent calls. The Six Mile proposal eliminates the lost time and excessive cost of 22 mile round trips. Back up can easily be provided by nearby Six Mile volunteers under the aid agreement.

3. The Springs can double on site 24/7 coverage for same costs as proposed by the Vineyards alliance. Two firefighters per shift is not affordable under the current arrangement with the Vineyards.

4. The Springs district is growing. This includes a new 195 property release that is not contiguous with the existing Springs properties but is inside the Springs tax district. The closest fire station to the new property is Six Mile.

5. The Six Mile community will benefit greatly by the alliance. The station struggles with finances and will benefit by cost sharing of station leadership. Of equal or greater import is the doubling of Springs on site paid staff. This will double resources deployed in the early critical minutes of an emergency.

Frankly, the Six Mile proposal is a no brainier. Clearly, if the Springs had our own Board as required by Ordinance, the Six Mile alliance would have been submitted for approval. The Vineyards board has not acted in the best interest of Springs taxpayers. Fee increases have greatly surpassed actual personnel costs since 2011. Since personnel costs are the primary fee driver, and services and manpower did not change, the degree of fee increases are not supportable. Some relief was provided for the 2016 budget year, but only after excessive debate.

We urge Council to represent us fairly and approve the Six Mile alliance for 2017. Anything less, would be a continuation of taxation without representation for the Springs taxpayers. We also request that Council take steps to establish a Springs Board commensurate with County ordinances and the other rural fire districts in Pickens County.


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