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Voters approve fire tax

(published May 2, 2009)

LAKE WYLIE - Voters in the Bethel fire district overwhelmingly approved the creation of a tax district Saturday that proponents say will keep the local volunteer fire department active in the long term and reduce insurance costs for residents, according to unofficial results.

The fire tax district won approval by a 491-to-62 margin, said Patrick Lee, deputy director of the York County Registration and Elections Office. Voter turnout was around 4.5 percent, Lee said. Results will be certified Friday, he said.

The approval means the Bethel Volunteer Fire Department would be able to add paid staff during hours when most volunteers work, upgrade its existing buildings and eventually buy new trucks. But the money won't come in immediately.

The tax district now requires approval from the York County Council, and a tax board must be formed to decide which projects will get the tax money. The department also will be required to submit a budget.

Pending those final steps, department officials estimate the first money could arrive in February of next year.

— Jason Foster