I hope my neighbors are all staying warm and safe as we deal with snow, slush, and ice. I wanted to give you an update on HB1110 and the prospects for long-term protection of our Fairview fire stations.
This article on WRAL.com tells the story of the up-and-down drama we went through last week. At first the vote on the bill was tied, and unlike in baseball, the tie does not go to the “runner” (the bill). But then one of the people who voted against the bill was willing to reconsider his position, conditional upon an amendment. The legislative rules allow reconsideration under those circumstances, and the vote passed the next day.
There is a final vote in the house scheduled this week, before the bill goes to the state senate.
Why do some Wake county officials oppose HB1110?
Last week I emailed Chief McGee, chairman of the Wake County Fire Commission and Fire Chief for the city of Apex, to ask his reasons for opposing HB1110.
His reasons for opposing boiled down to two main issues:
- The Fairview Fire departments have received a lot of equipment over the years from the county, for which the county still has to make substantial debt payments. The original bill would have allowed Ten-Ten fire district to avoid paying its share of those costs.
- The original bill would have required the county approve whatever budget the Ten-Ten fire district came up with, up to the full amount of the fire tax money our citizens raise in that fire tax district.
This amendment to the bill answers both of those objections. Instead of requiring the Wake county commissioners to “include” the Ten-Ten fire district’s recommended budget in the county budget, it only requires them to “consider” it. That one word change makes a huge difference, allowing the county to continue to require us to pay for debts and county overhead expenses.
What makes us so special?
That change probably doesn’t answer all of their objections. County officials all over the state are up in arms over the thought of a fire district becoming independent. They are concerned that if we are allowed to become independent, other fire districts will want that too, and all those requests for independence would become a bother to them.
So what makes us so special that we should be “allowed” to be independent? I’d like to turn that question around. What made us so special that Fairview Fire Station #2 was targeted for closure? Even though the fire station was needed? Even though it was operating efficiently and effectively? Even though shutting it down would be financially unwise? Even though shutting it down would increase our emergency response times?
There was no good reason for the county to attempt to shut down Fairview Station #2. That was an adverse, hostile action for which there should have been repercussions. Instead, the same county staff who wanted to close our fire station will write the county’s plans for our future, unless we become independent from them.
What Can We Do?
We can win this thing! If you support the bill, please contact our state legislators and ask them to vote YES on it.
For More Info
Here is the web page that has all the info on HB1110, including all the votes taken so far and links to all versions of the bill. Note that it takes some effort to piece together the exact current wording of the bill – you have to look at the Edition 3 document but then combine it with the latest amendment.