Pelham Batesville Fire District seeking bond authorization

GREER, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – Greenville County Council will hear from the Pelham Batesville Fire District Tuesday night. It’s a first move towards funding a new fire station headquarters, but the issue can be tricky.

This special purpose fire district serves people in both Greenville and Spartanburg counties, meaning they can get their bond request passed in the Statehouse.

However, if it doesn’t pass, they have to rely on joint approval from each county council.

“We’ve just had to make places for things to work,” explains Pelham Batesville Fire Chief, Phill Jolley

Jolley says their currently fire headquarters on Highway 14 in Greer has become too small for their needs and too expensive to maintain.

“The wall to my right is the original wall from the original building and everything to that side is added on to. So, there are leak problems. You see the paint on the wall,” said Jolley.

They are looking to building a new facility with ample bunk, storage and meeting space, but doing so comes with costs.

To offset them, the fire district wants to issue a 6.5 million dollar bond that would increase the taxes on people living in their service area by about 3 mills.

“The average homeowner in the district would pay 18 to 25 dollars a year, depending on the value of their home,” said Jolley.

Jolley said the tax isn’t permanent.

“We’re passing this without referendum contingent upon this passing state legislation,” said Jolley.

It is the “without referendum” part that Spartanburg County Council took issue with Monday night.

Should the measure fail at the state and move to the counties, they say they’d require a public vote.

“We’ll do whatever we have to do. We’d like to make this a little easier moving forward,” said Jolley.

The topic was received positively at the Greenville County Council’s recent finance meeting, according to Greenville County Council Chairman, Butch Kirven.

“Their old facility is outdated and too small and their growth area needs to meet the needs of the people in that area,” said Kirven

He expects his council will move forward, Tuesday, approving a public hearing on the authorization.

“Greenville County is certainly willing to cooperate with the district and with Spartanburg County as needs arise,” he said.

If approved Tuesday, a public hearing on this issue will be held April 18th.

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