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County to review Citys fire district counter-proposal
Fire services will not be interrupted, official says
Tom Couch Web
Tom Couch

Bulloch County commissioners will review a proposal made late Thursday by Statesboro city officials regarding an agreement for fire services to areas within a five-mile radius outside the city limits.
    Following a great deal of discussion and controversy between city and county officials regarding the “fire district,” Statesboro City Manager Frank Parker submitted the counter-proposal to Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch Thursday — the day the existing agreement between the two governmental agencies expired.
    Although the existing agreement did expire at midnight Thursday, “fire services will not be interrupted,” Couch said.
    The city’s proposal is that Bulloch County reduce its annual payment to the city based on taxes paid by residents of the five-mile fire district by $120,000 a year, he said.
    The budgeted payment for this year is $856,000, he said.
    The city offers the reduction, initially requested by the county, as a means to “assist” the county fire department in its expenses incurred through response to fires in the district. While Statesboro firefighters are first responders to fires inside the fire
district, Bulloch County firefighters also respond through mutual aid agreements as described in House Bill 489.
    The city asks that the county agree to not construct fire department facilities within the five-mile district of the City of Statesboro, and asks that the agreement be signed in a two-year contract, to expire June 30, 2013, Couch said.
    The counter-proposal from the city follows a proposal made by Bulloch County commissioners last week, offering to renew the existing agreement with the exception that either party could terminate the agreement upon 30 days’ written notice; the county would be allowed to build fire delivery infrastructure within the fire district, and the amount of monies paid to the City would be adjusted.
    Both the Statesboro City Council and the Bulloch County Commission will hold regular meetings next week; the city council meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday while the county commission meets Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m.
    The City of Statesboro has on its agenda “consideration of a motion” to approve the agreement. Couch said commissioners will review the proposal before Tuesday’s evening meeting.
    The fire district issue has caused controversy in the past as well as recently. City and county officials met during a mediated session three years ago to discuss agreements over the fire district.
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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