The Orangeburg (SC) district is now debt-free, which means the district can now spend the $285,000 it was paying on the debt each year on new fire trucks.
“We have been ordering one fire truck for the last three years,” Orangeburg County Fire System Coordinator Gene Ball said. “We need to get into ordering two fire trucks a year. The reason being is that we have 23 fire departments. If you buy one fire truck a year, it would take 23 years to get around to a second truck.”
The issue came up as the Orangeburg County Fire Commission discussed the fire district’s budget during the group’s regular monthly meeting.
The district’s debt payments averaged about $285,000 a year over 15 years. Orangeburg County underwrote the bond for the fledgling district to purchase fire stations.
The district was able to pay off the entire debt Jan. 1.
Ball said the district is also hoping to receive some federal grants to help with the purchase of trucks. The district has aggressively applied for grants throughout the year.
As the commission discussed the budget being developed for next year, Commissioner Frances Davis questioned why no additional incentive money was provided for firefighters this year. The incentives reimburse firefighters for gasoline used in fire calls.
Ball said the incentives could come from the district’s $78,686 in contingency funds if needed.
About $1.2 million is for administrative operations, which includes firefighter physicals, fire equipment maintenance and the purchase of about 39 new 800 megahertz radios. About $910,000 is allocated toward capital projects including property improvements, the purchase of land and the purchase of two new fire trucks.
Ball said specific numbers are still being tweaked. The commission decided to review the budget and vote on it at a later date.
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