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Ashley River Special Tax District

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ARFDOn Monday, April 22, 2019, Dorchester County Council gave gave third reading of an Ordinance Abolishing and Dissolving the Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District and Repealing Ordinance  No. 79-09 and Ordinance No. 85-03, which established a Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District and the Resolution adopted September 17, 1984, which added additional property to the original Special Tax District, by unanimous vote.

Prior to final approval of any ordinances related to fire protection in the ARSTD, Dorchester County Council will publicize and advertise the dates and times of the public hearings related to this matter.

Dorchester County Council Chairman and former Chairman of the Dorchester County Public Safety, Health, and Human Services Committee of Council, George Bailey said, “Dorchester County is committed to providing the best public safety, EMS and fire protection to the residents of the Ashley River Special Tax District and all the residents of Dorchester County. Any decision that we make will be based on providing the best services at the lowest cost to our citizens, businesses, and taxpayers."

City of North Charleston Mayor, Keith Summey added "The outcome is always positive when government partners, working under the same mission, come together to benefit the citizens we serve.  Over the years, the North Charleston Fire Department has worked diligently to provide the highest level of life safety and fire protection throughout North Charleston as a Class 1 ISO rated, fully accredited fire department, and we stand ready and capable to fully cover the remaining 2.7 square miles of the Ashley River District.  At the end of the day, this partnership is a win-win for the local jurisdictions and the residents and businesses we take an oath to serve and protect." 


Intent

The fire station in front of the Robert Bosch Corporation will remain open and will be staffed by full-time fire and EMS personnel.  

The intent is to provide more efficient, and effective full-time fire service and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to the ARSTD without increasing the tax burden for its citizens. 


Background Information

The Ashley River Special Tax District was created in 1979 to fill a need for fire service in the area because there were no county or municipal services near the district. This is no longer the case.

Since their 1979 creation, the service area for ARFD has been reduced to approximately 2.7 square miles. Currently, the district is served by ARFD that is served by 47 personnel. The total number of personnel is a combination of full-time, part-time and volunteer staff. Note: the total number of personnel does not reflect the actual number of personnel on-duty.ALL ARSTD equipment was purchased with County tax dollars and is the property of Dorchester County. 

In 2009 the North Charleston Fire Department (NCFD) and the ARFD entered into an Automatic Aid Agreement to serve the district. 

In 2013 Dorchester County created a county-wide fire service and due to annexations, the city of North Charleston surrounds the ARSTD, which is served by the Ashley River Fire Department (ARFD).

In 2014, the City of North Charleston and the ARFD entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement for both fire departments to serve the district through 2019. Note: Funding allocated to the ARFD from the City of North Charleston is decreasing by $236,550.

The County has discussed an agreement with the City of North Charleston and the NCFD has agreed to serve the area with no tax increase to its residents.

The NCFD is willing to staff the Bosch fire station in the district and provide fire protection from three additional fully staffed NCFD stations within five miles of the district and has an ISO 1. 

Dorchester County Fire Fund 

On April 3, 2006 County Council unanimously approved four mills for a Fire Protection Improvements Plan, commonly referred to as the “Fire Fund.”

As noted on page 6 of the April 3, 2006 County Council Meeting Minutes “The funds would be held by the county, not distributed to the individual fire departments, as the 15 mills that are currently distributed.” Chief Scott Inabinet presented the Fire Protection Capital Improvements Fund Strategic Plan on behalf of the Fire Board and their recommendation for using these funds in this manner as part of the Fire Board's FY 2006-2007 Budget Presentation.


North Charleston Fire Department Already Serves The ARSTD 

  • NCFD provides a minimum response of six fire apparatus and 22 personnel to all structure fires. These resources meet recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association. All NCFD Firefighters are highly trained and nationally certified at the Firefighter II level. 
  • NCFD provides nationally certified EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) to respond to serious medical calls. These personnel are highly trained to provide life-saving care to those suffering from major injuries or medical conditions. 
  • NCFD provides highly trained technicians to respond to hazardous material emergencies. These technicians are trained to identify dangerous hazardous materials to quickly evacuate residents to safety. The technicians have special protective gear and equipment so that they can contain spills or stop leaks that would endanger the public. Note: NCFD provides mutual aid for all Hazardous Material calls at the Bosch Corporation
  • NCFD crews are actively engaged in community events while being available for emergency response.  Emergency coverage is maintained through a state-of-the-art dispatch center that constantly tracks the location of each crew and automatically dispatches the closest available unit for an emergency. NCFD personnel provided fire safety education to more than 27,000 adults and children at 271 public safety events in 2018.
  • NCFD has an established history of providing high-quality fire and emergency services to unincorporated areas of Charleston County. Since 1996 the NCFD has served residents of the North Charleston Sewer District with the same high-quality service that is provided to City residents. 

The dissolution of the ARSTD benefits the residents of the District and the County because:

  • Residents in the current ARSTD will receive the benefit of a full-time fully staffed station of 1 engine company and a battalion chief (5 personnel) from the NCFD.
  • The area would also be served by three additional full-time fully staffed NCFD Stations within five miles of the area for an additional increase of approximately 15 on-duty personnel available as additional resources.
  • An increased presence by Dorchester County EMS with space being made available to house an additional medic unit on site. This means the County will NOT have to build another EMS station to provide service to the growing District.
  • Upon dissolution of the department, all equipment and apparatus that was purchased by Dorchester County taxpayers will remain the property of Dorchester County.
  • Lessens the burden on the Dorchester County Dispatch Center by approximately 900 calls, annually.
  • By abolishing the ARSTD and contracting with NCFD, businesses and residents will have more resources and personnel available for emergency response.
  • After the consolidation, there will be 3 paid Fire Departments in Dorchester County, which will allow for easier cooperation in training and service provision which makes our citizens safer. 

Effects for residents in the ARSTD

  • Enhanced level of service from the NCFD
  • There will be NO tax increase to the residents of the ARSTD
  • There will be no change in ISO rating for the residents
  • Enhanced EMS presence in the district 

Actions Taken By County Council

February 19, 2019

On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, by a vote of 6-0 (with 1 absent), Dorchester County Council voted to postpone a vote on a motion to instruct the County Administrator, County Attorney, and other appropriate County staff to prepare any necessary Ordinances, Resolutions, and any other documents necessary to commence the process of the abolishment and dissolution of the ARSTD, effective July 1, 2019, until the March 4, 2019 County Council Meeting in Summerville.

March 4, 2019

On Monday, March 4, 2019, Dorchester County Council unanimously approved a motion to instruct the County Administrator, County Attorney, and other appropriate County staff to prepare any necessary Ordinances, Resolutions, and any other documents necessary to commence the process of the abolishment and dissolution of the ARSTD, effective July 1, 2019. 

March 18, 2019

Ordinance - The first reading of an Ordinance Abolishing and Dissolving the Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District and Repealing Ordinance  No. 79-09 and Ordinance No. 85-03, which established a Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District and the Resolution adopted September 17, 1984, which added additional property to the original Special Tax District was unanimously passed by County Council. 

Resolution - On Monday, March 18, 2019, Dorchester County Council unanimously approved a Resolution ordering a Public Hearing to be held on the Question of the Proposed Abolishment and Dissolution of an area of Dorchester County which was added to the original Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District.

April 1, 2019

Ordinance - The second reading of an Ordinance Abolishing and Dissolving the Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District and Repealing Ordinance  No. 79-09 and Ordinance No. 85-03, which established a Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District and the Resolution adopted September 17, 1984, which added additional property to the original Special Tax District was passed by a vote of 6-0-1 absent.

April 22, 2019

Ordinance & Public Hearing - On Monday, April 22, 2019, Dorchester County Council held a public hearing and unanimously passed third/final reading to an Ordinance Abolishing and Dissolving the Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District and Repealing Ordinance  No. 79-09 and Ordinance No. 85-03, which established a Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District and the Resolution adopted September 17, 1984, which added additional property to the original Special Tax District.

Public Hearing - On Monday, March 18, 2019, Dorchester County Council unanimously approved a Resolution ordering a Public Hearing to be held on the Question of the Proposed Abolishment and Dissolution of an area of Dorchester County which was added to the original Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District. The public hearing was held on Monday, April 22, 2019. 

Ordinance - First reading of an ordinance Abolishing and Dissolving an area of Dorchester County which was added to the original Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District passed with a unanimous of vote of County Council.

May 6, 2019

Ordinance - On Monday, May 6, 2019, Dorchester County Council unanimously approved second reading of an ordinance Abolishing and Dissolving an area of Dorchester County which was added to the original Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District.

May 20, 2019

Ordinance - On Monday, May 20, 2019, Dorchester County Council unanimously approved third/final reading of an ordinance Abolishing and Dissolving an area of Dorchester County which was added to the original Special Tax District known as the Ashley River Fire District.