June 5, 2014

Buxton Fire District tax will increase 2.39 cents

The Dare County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Monday night approved a 2.39-cent increase in the Buxton Fire District tax to build a new firehouse.

Beginning July 1, the fire district tax will be 10.58 cents per $100 of property valuation.

Bryan Perry, chief of the Buxton Volunteer Fire Department, addressed the commissioners about the need for the increase.

"It takes bigger trucks and more manpower to protect bigger buildings -- and I don't mean just taller buildings -- on Hatteras Island now," Perry said.

"It takes bigger trucks, and bigger trucks require bigger stations," he added.

For instance, the fire department has a 30-year-old truck that needs to be replaced, but a new truck will be bigger and won't fit in the bay at the current firehouse.

Also, he noted, the taller buildings require more ladder trucks, which are expensive to buy and expensive to maintain.

Allen Burrus, Hatteras Island's commissioner, also noted that the Buxton fire department is charged with the protection of five, large county buildings, including two schools, the EMS station, the county office building, and the Fessenden Center.

The department gets no county funds for the county buildings.

"I guess the people of Buxton are paying for it," Perry said.

The fire department is ready to start building a new station on higher ground across Highway 12 from the present firehouse, which was flooded in Hurricane Emily and with all the bays it now has is really too big for the lot it sits on.

The new station is estimated to cost $1.4 million, though Perry says he knows some costs will have to be backed out in the end.  The plan is for six bays in the new building on the elevated land.  For a while, he says, the department will have to continue using the meeting room in the old building.

The property for the new station was bought in May 2011 for $241,000, and Perry said it is paid for.

In response to a question from the board about local support, Perry said, "I know somebody will be upset."  But he added the fire department has to take the step to protect its current rating of 5.

Burrus made the motion to approve the additional tax, and it was seconded by Max Dutton.  It was approved by a vote of 6-1 with Republican Bob Woodard voting against it.

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