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Council holds off on fire district fee vote

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By Reece Murphy

An ordinance that could increase fire district fees for non-residential structures in the Panhandle has been held by county officials until later this month. 

Despite increased attention from county fire officials, Lancaster County Council took no action on the ordinance during its Jan. 27 meeting and pushed second reading to council’s Monday, Feb. 10, meeting. 

The ordinance, which council voted unanimously to approve during first reading on Jan. 13, would amend the square footage threshold for calculating fire fees on non-residential structures within the Indian Land and Pleasant Valley fire districts. 

In a Jan. 3 memo to council, County Administrator Steve Willis said the change would specifically reduce the square footage for calculating the equivalent residential unit, also called ERU, for non-residential structures from 2,500 square feet to 2,000 square feet.

“This would have the affect of increasing the fee for non-residential structures,” Willis said in the memo. “This would include all non-residential structures currently assessed the fee, including commercial structures, industrial structures, government buildings and churches.”

The fee change was requested by fire departments in those two districts after members noticed the large amount of time spent at those types of structures, for events such as fire inspections and drills. 

Lancaster County Clerk to Council Debbie Hardin said Monday, Feb. 3, the ordinance isn’t tabled, since it was approved during first reading. 

Instead, she said council simply delayed second reading until more detailed information, including estimates for increased fees, was compiled for their review. 

Willis has said the ordinance would not change the residential fire fee of $75 per year. 

If approved after three readings, the fee change would take effect for tax bills generated in fall 2014, Willis said. 

 

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416