After some discussion, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners decided at Monday nightâ€™s meeting to go ahead with a new satellite fire station and additional funding for the East Lincoln Volunteer Fire Department in an effort to avoid insurance premium hikes for area homeowners.
Lincoln County Manager George Wood presented the issue and provided some background information on how it came about. He said that subsequent to the county setting the budget and tax rate, insurers were notified by the State ISO that they must write policies based on a five-mile travel-distance requirement from the station to homes within the fire district.
Wood emphasized that no rules had changed and that no one was at fault. Nonetheless, some 350 homeowners who did not meet the Class 5 fire insurance rating could have faced homeowner insurance premium increases of between 30 and 70 percent upon renewals this fall.
Commissioner Jim Klein questioned, after looking at a map of the area, whether any existing fire stations could provide the necessary rating, but Wood said that the travel-distance requirement was based on driving road mileage and, therefore, that there were no other options. He also said that the fire departmentâ€™s plans for a second station would not be actualized in time to prevent the insurance hikes.
According to Woodâ€™s recommendation, the county will loan the fire district $30,000 to offset the rent, utilities and other expenses for the temporary substation â€” which will be located on Commerce Drive in Denver â€” this year and then adjust the tax rate to cover expenses next year.
After Klein expressed some concern over getting locked into a lease, Wood said the lease would be with the fire department and that the department would be able to get out of it when the new station is ready.
Commissioner Carrol Mitchem made sure that the countyâ€™s payment would be in the form of a loan, which Wood confirmed, before commissioners unanimously approved the recommendation.
In other board of commissioners action at Mondayâ€™s meeting:
Two public hearings regarding the removal and change of road names were conducted. Commissioners unanimously approved of all name removals and changes.
A resolution to amend the Lincoln County personnel policy with respect to the conditions of employment was passed unanimously.
Leon Harmon, director of the Finance Department, presented the Capital Project Ordinance for the Rock Springs Nature Preserve, which was passed unanimously.
The first of two public hearings for the North Carolina Tomorrow Grant was conducted.
Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to direct the Planning Board to prepare a small-area plan for Crescent Properties on N.C. 16 at the Gaston County line.
The finance officerâ€™s, county managerâ€™s, county commissionersâ€™, county attorneyâ€™s and register of deeds reports were given.
SARAH LOWERY, Staff Writer