Senate OKs bill to raise fire district’s millage cap

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

A bill to raise the cap on the Murrells Inlet Garden City Beach Fire District millage has passed the S.C. Senate, but is still awaiting action in the House.

Al Hitchcock, chairman of the district’s board of directors, said the Senate version sets a four-mill cap on the amount the district can request, but the 2 mill increase the district plans to implement would allow the organization to build, equip and staff the fire station planned for McDowell Shortcut Road and meet the immediate needs of the department.

The original bill, introduced in 2013 by Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, had requested the cap be raised by 10 mills, but after meeting opposition, the bill was reintroduced in 2014 and a companion bill was offered in the House by Nelson Hardwick, R-Surfside Beach.

Lawmakers lopped six mills — 1 mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed value — from the original request, but even with the cut, Hitchcock said the district would realize roughly $450,000 to $500,000 in new funding.

Hardwick said that if the bill becomes law, district residents would continue to enjoy a favorable fire insurance rating.

The fire ratings are set every decade and are based on how close the residences throughout the district are to fire stations and hydrants, as well as the rating of the fire departments.

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