As related on today’s front page, Kershaw County Council passed second reading, 6-1, of an ordinance that will enact a $25 per house/car fee starting on July 1 to jumpstart the creation of a new fire district in the unincorporated areas of the county.
The idea is to use the fees as a temporary revenue source to both assist existing volunteer firefighting services while adding professional firefighters to the mix. It also provides that revenue stream while County Administrator Vic Carpenter and his staff continue negotiating with the county’s municipalities on how to include the towns of Bethune and Elgin in the new district -- that would replace one that has been in existence for about 20 years -- and not double-charge county residents under the Camden Fire Department’s protection.
If all goes well, and a separate ordinance passes second and third readings later this year, the new district will be created on July 1, 2020, and the fee will be replaced by recurring millage.
Some say none of this is necessary, that county council is simply making a money grab. Based on what we have seen and heard, we do not believe that is the case. Those in favor of creating the new district and finding the right level of millage to charge appear to genuinely have the county’s best interests at heart, especially as the county grows -- growth that brings additional need for fire protection and other first responder activities.
We are not “for” taxes and fees; we like them just as little as you do. However, we also recognize that when something is truly needed, ways must be found to respond to that need.
We think council is doing the right thing.