Council considers fees for crash response

  • Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dorchester County Councilheard a new amendment to the Code of Ordinances, Monday, that would impose fees for fire and rescue response to motor vehicle accidents.

County Administrator Jason Ward introduced a new amendment to the Code of Ordinances that would add a section to Chapter 16, Article I, to allow “for the imposition of fees” when Dorchester County Fire Rescue Department personnel and equipment are deployed to assist motor vehicle accidents in unincorporated Dorchester County.

“Substantially, this will allow for fees to be charged and billed to most insurance companies that will provide coverage in the cases where we’re sending our personnel and equipment out,” Ward said.

Under Councilman Willie Davis’ motion, the council unanimously voted to accept first reading and sent the amendment to the Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee. The committee, which is made up of members of the council, will discuss details of the amendment at the next Council meeting, March 17.

All ordinances require approval of three readings before being accepted into the Code of Ordinances.

Fire departments

In an effort to obtain much-needed storage space, the Dorchester County Fire Department will also be expanding.

In a unanimous vote to accept, Council approved the department’s request to use 7,000 square feet of space in the Dorchester County Annex building, the old courthouse in St. George.

The move will bring $44,000 in savings to the county, as new tenants in the furnished New Century Industrial Park (which is owned by Dorchester County) don’t want to use the provided furniture and will transfer the property to the fire department’s new space.

Finally, the council gave second reading to an ordinance that will allow fire departments emergency access to businesses through the use of a key lock box.

The boxes, often called “Knox boxes,” are kept outside a business and allow the fire department rapid entry to a building without damaging property.

When the item was first introduced at the Feb. 18 meeting, several councilmembers expressed concern for the cost installing a lock box might impose to a small business.

After being discussed in the Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee, the committee recommended Council move forward with adopting the ordinance.

The council will hold a public hearing regarding the item at its next meeting before giving third reading.

In other actions:

•Council heard updates on the debris removal operations across the county. Council Chairman Bill Hearn reminded that most of Summerville’s roadways fall under state jurisdiction, in which case the county contractors will not be picking up their debris, state contractors will. Citizens are encouraged to call 843-832/563-0341 with questions or concerns.

•Mike Murphree, who leads the taskforce on new and existing Ocean and Coastal Resource Management regulations, gave a presentation on the affects of jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional wetlands in the county. He recommended Council form an ad-hoc committee to examine the laws and potential changes to them. They voted to send the issue to the Planning, Development and Building Committee.

•The council agreed to not pursue funding nonprofits in fiscal year 2015. According to Ward, Council traditionally accepts applications from area 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations seeking funding. He said in the last several years Council has not approved any nonprofit funding, so he recommended this year the council forego soliciting applications.

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