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Warren County to own fire station

Stanley: Deal should allow volunteer company to pay off $130,000 loan

By Alex Bridges - abridges@nvdaily.com

Warren County soon will own its first fire station.

A process started 10 years ago should reach its conclusion by the end of the year, according to County Administrator Douglas Stanley. At that point, the county would own the building that serves as the home to the North Warren Volunteer Fire and Rescue Support Company, Stanley explained Thursday.

The company would lease the property from the county. The deal also should allow the fire company to pay off a loan it used to build a second floor on the facility, Stanley said.

"Operationally, nothing will change," Stanley said, adding that North Warren Volunteer Fire Company 10 will be the building tenant.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to accept a deed to a 2.82-acre parcel from the North Warren Volunteer Fire and Rescue Support Company.

In most cases, a community pools its resources to build a fire station, which the volunteer organization then owns and maintains. Organizations obtain a mortgage from a bank, build the facility and then often receive some operational funding from the county, Stanley explained.

In Warren County, the local industry took the lead to build the fire station, indicating a need existed for coverage in that area, Stanley recalled. The county created a holding company in 2002 -- unique for local government -- with the intention of building a fire station for the community, he told the board.

The holding company consisted of representatives from the volunteer organization, industry and the county, which oversaw the construction of the facility. The county put up approximately $240,000. Local industry and new developments made similar pledges to help build the station. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. donated the land for the station, according to Stanley. The county and industry ultimately covered the cost of construction.

During the process, the fire company requested a second floor to serve as a meeting hall and kitchen for the facility, Stanley explained. The organization asked the holding company if it could use the land on which the station sits as collateral for a $200,000 loan to build the second floor. The fire company assumed the responsibility of paying off that loan, Stanley explained Tuesday.

The county gives the volunteer group approximately $64,000 each year to cover operating and equipment costs. The company used fundraising to pay off the loan, Stanley explained. Construction of the second floor was completed in 2003.

However, the company has paid approximately $60,000-$70,000 toward the loan over the past nine years, according to Stanley. At the current rate, it would take the company almost 30 years to pay off the loan, he said.

"The only sticking point is the fact that we've got a $130,000 loan hanging out in the air that the fire company thought it would've paid off by now," Stanley said.

That loan is not completely paid off.

"This actually will be a huge cost savings in the long run for the fire company because once it becomes a county facility we will be responsible for the insurance, we will take care of the grass mowing," Stanley added. "So in essence, it will allow the fire company some additional resources to be able to pay this note off in the next 10 years."

If the fire company defaults on the loan, the county then takes the local annual allocation and uses the money to help make the debt payment, Stanley explained. County Attorney Blair D. Mitchell said the board would need to approve the payment as an appropriation.

1 Comment

Where was the oversight on this, that the holding company, nor the county didn't ensure that the station WOULD have this loan paid off in the 10 year period. The other questionable thing is when Stanley said "will be a cost savings in the long run for the fire company because once it becomes a county facility we will be responsible for the insurance, we will take care of the grass mowing", really..........a cost savings to them (fire company) yes, a cost savings to the county taxpayers NO.
I will almost with certainty bet that the amount ($64,000) given to the fire company will NOT be reduced, as it should be if the county is now responsible for mowing the grass (probably the park & rec employees), the insurance, building maintenance & repairs, etc. It will lead to paying double for these items if the $64,000 is not reduced by that amount assumed by the county. The fire company has received more than $600,000 in 10 years from the county, but could only afford to pay back $60K to $70K for the building loan. The only apparatus they own is their fire truck with the ambulance being already county owned and maintained. The county should pay this loan off and reduce the payment given to the fire company each year for the next 10 years ($13K-14K) and reduce it farther for what the county will be paying in taking over the building each year. This is just another example in the lack of oversight by the county and lack of responsibility on behalf of the fire company, which seems to be the trend. The whole county fire & rescue department is entirely inadequate; with too few volunteers, not enough paid personnel to cover peak times and with TOO MUCH MONEY being given to indivudual fire departments with NO expectation that the volunteers actually answer fire/rescue calls. This message to the citizens of Warren County; you need to learn more about your local fire/rescue department in terms of emergency responses (or lack of). You should be able to have your questions answered by contacting the Warren County Fire & Rescue Department at (540) 636-3830. Have them show you how healthy your local department is in answering emergency fire/rescue incidents. I am warning you now because UshouldBconcerned!

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