Plans move forward on new fire station

Public hearing on $1.5 million project set for Feb. 19

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — Northside Volunteer Fire Department officials are moving forward with plans to build a new Station 1 at the corner of Northside Drive and Bear Branch Road north of Rockingham.

A public hearing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the fire hall, located at 533 Northside Drive. The purpose, said Jim Chavis, chairman of the board of directors, is to fulfill a legal requirement that the department must have “when in the process of borrowing money to build a building so that people in the tax district will have an understanding” of the project.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Plans are moving forward with the design and build of the new Northside Volunteer Fire Department Station 1.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Plans are moving forward with the design and build of the new Northside Volunteer Fire Department Station 1.

Northside Volunteer Fire Department manages the largest fire district in Richmond County. The project amount is estimated to be $1,557,500. Chavis told The Pee Dee Post in September 2014 fire department officials had hoped to award a design-and-build contract in October and break ground by the end of the year. That didn’t happen.

Part of the delay was caused by a different of interpretation in state law. County representatives, including County Manager Rick Sago, said the fire department is required to follow public acquisition laws on such a project. The guidelines are covered under North Carolina Generate Statute 143-129. Some fire department board members, however, felt fire departments were exempt from such a requirement.

Sago said Wednesday the process is in place to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent in the most effective, efficient manner possible. Along with Steve Futrell, county attorney, along with Kara Millonzi, associate professor of public law and government at the UNC School of Government in Chapel Hill, echoed Sago’s position to the fire department.

Northside’s board of directors voted last week to proceed under the guidance of the county’s intrepretation.

On Tuesday, Chavis that “we’re going on with the process.”

Instead of a design-and-build, fire department officials will hire an architect to design what is expected to be a shell warehouse-type building and then solicit bids for construction.

Ultimately, fire department leaders must seek approval from the Board of Richmond County Commissioners before awarding a contract. Sago said the commissioners will request the department’s budget and ensure the volunteer company can afford the payments within the current budget — and, if not, then the fire department must seek a tax increase from the commissioners.

“They made it clear to me they have no intention of asking for a tax increase,” Sago said.

Chavis said he and fire department leaders look forward to the opportunity to explain the project to the public later this month.

 

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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