JASPER COUNTY, SC (WTOC) - We are hearing from the mayor of Hardeeville and the Jasper County Fire Chief after Jasper County terminated a long-term contract with the City of Hardeeville for fire services.
The plan is for Jasper County to build two new fire stations in Hardeeville even after the termination of that contract in November of last year. The contract runs out in June.
“We’re asking the county council tell us the reasons why. Why was that rational? What was the rationale? What was the logic behind this so that we, the citizens of Jasper County, can weigh in,” questioned Hardeeville Mayor, Harry Williams.
That longstanding contract with Jasper County covered unincorporated areas of Hardeeville.
“Those contracts were supposed to end temporarily, only until the growth caught up to the service needs and the funding availability, and now that that’s occurred - a contract is a contract - it can be terminated at any time,” said Jasper County Fire Chief, Frank Edwards.
Mayor Williams says ending that longstanding contract and building two new stations right next door to their fire stations means costing taxpayers more unnecessary money.
“For three months, we have offered them an alternative plan and we have been negotiating. The county has yet to respond to our plan and they have yet to explain to us in detail why they are taking these steps."
To make up for ending that contract, Jasper County plans to build one new fire station and remodel another to still have fire and medical services in the area.
The two new fire stations that they plan to build for $1.8 million are both less than two miles from our current fire stations. We think this is a redundancy and unnecessary."
Chief Edwards says this just means better coverage for the rural areas of Hardeeville.
“They are close to each other. Again, I think that’s to cover the areas that they need to cover effectively within the five-mile response limits for the zones of the area that they are gonna be protecting,” said Chief Edwards.
“Why are they spending their money where they have fire coverage? We don’t know the answer to that, and that’s one of the key questions that we need to find an answer to, and that’s one of the key reasons why this plan makes absolutely no sense.”
A public hearing will be held Tuesday that the public is invited to attend so the county can hear from citizens.