HAPPENING TODAY: Referendum vote in MIGC to increase funding for the fire department

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MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) Today voters in the Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District will pass or deny a referendum increasing the property tax millage.

According to the Murrells Inlet Garden City Professional Fire Fighter’s Association, the millage increase from 14 to 19 mills would bring in about $1.2 million for the department.

A top priority if the referendum passes is to add and staff a fourth ambulance.

A letter the Chairman of the MIGC Fire Department Board, George Oldroyd and board member, Pat Walsh signed, stated the average increase would be between $25 and $35 dollars on “an owner-occupied home assessed at $200,000”.

Oldroyd tells News13, the number of calls the department receives is increasing as growth in the district continues to rise. He says though neighboring agencies do mutual aide with the MIGC Fire Department, response times will increase without the passage of the referendum due to the increased amount of time it takes for a neighboring agency to get to a call outside their district.

“With the increasing number of calls, basically what’s going to happen if we don’t get this money and don’t have that fourth ambulance is that it’s going to take us longer and longer to respond to some of these calls,” Oldroyd said. “Response times will increase.”

There are a number of people who oppose the referendum.

Three South Carolina leaders, Senator Stephen Goldfinch, Representative Lee Hewitt and Representative Russell Fry, signed a letter urging the board to release information about spending.

The letter states according to previous audits, there was an overspending of more than $2 million dollars and urges the board to wait for an audit of 2018 before voting to increase the millage.

News13 asked Chairman Oldroyd about the contention.

“We have money that comes from the tax bills sent out in October, and it arrives a lot of it in November and December,” Oldroyd explains. “As a result when our books close in December, because our fiscal year is the same as a calendar year, the books close and it looks like we’ve got a lot of cash, that money for the most part is meant for our expenses the following year.”

Regular polling places in the district are open today from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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