DENVER – The need for a new east Lincoln fire station has led the East Lincoln Fire District to request a tax increase in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget despite a recent revaluation that saw property values increase countywide.
“Over the past three or four years, with the growth that’s taking place on the west side of (N.C.) 16, we’ve kind of been moving that way with our call volume,” East Lincoln Fire Chief Tim Tench said. “You’ve got Trilogy now as well as the new Ingleside Farm development going up, and then there’s two new developments going in on North Little Egypt at this point. What we have been working on over the past few years is meeting with the county to identify an area where we might be able to build a fire station over that way.”
Residents in the East Lincoln Fire District currently pay 8.90 cents per $100 of valuation for free fire service, which generates roughly $2.325 million in revenue for the fire department. Due to the increased property values in the wake of the revaluation, the district could actually drop its tax rate by nearly one full cent and generate the same amount of revenue next year.
Instead, the district has proposed increasing its tax rate by nearly one full cent to 9.80 cents per $100, which is projected to bring in more than $2.8 million, resulting in an increase of more than $500,000 in revenue.
“The increased funding will be used for us to go ahead and start the process with the architect to get the design phase of the project underway,” Tench said. “What it looks like is that the county is wanting to co-locate fire, (emergency medical services) and police in one structure, and we’re looking to build it somewhere in the area of Ingleside and (N.C.) 73. This money will be used to get the plans drawn and to do soil testing and all of that stuff that’s needed to get the land ready to be built on.”
One site that’s been identified as a potential location for a new fire station is a 1.4-acre tract near the intersection of N.C. 73 and North Ingleside Farm Road in the vicinity of East Lincoln High School.
“What has happened is the county, myself and one of the developers in that area have worked out a deal on a piece of property on the north side of (N.C.) 73 right before you get to the bridge,” Tench said. “The property has been surveyed preliminarily and they’ve done some preliminary soil testing to determine the depth of rock. We’ve had some drawings done on what the grade would look like to determine whether it’s an acceptable site as well. We’ve even gone as far as looking at the Howard’s Creek department because they also co-locate with police and EMS, so we’ve taken that building and basically drawn it on our plot to make sure it’ll fit.”
That’s the extent of the work done on the property to this point, with the department currently in a holding pattern until the budget is approved so further plans can be paid for.
“We can’t finance the drawings and the design, so we’ll have to pay up front for them and that’s what the majority of the additional funding will be put toward,” Tench said.
While most of the money will be spent on the new station, a small portion would be used to fund the addition of a new firefighter to work each shift.