Members of the Pleasant Valley Fire Department Board and the county disagree on who should own the land for the new fire department.
The county recently purchased property on Possum Hollow Road, planned for a new fire department. The land will be deeded to Lancaster County, which fire board members Jane Tanner and Pat Eudy object to.
The property should be in the fire department's name, they said.
"We object to this because it's money that has been put aside for the fire district," Tanner said. "We would like to own the land and not have it controlled by the county."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
County Administrator Steve Willis said that the department can't own the land because they are using county bonds to pay for a portion of the property costs and the construction of the new fire department. Also, the fire board can't own the land because it is not legally allowed to hold property, he said.
"When you go through bonds, it has to be in the name of the entity that is issuing the bonds," Willis said. "In this case, Lancaster County."
The bonds will be paid off by the $75 special tax district fee charged annually to property owners in the Pleasant Valley Fire District. Once the bonds are paid off, Willis said, the county council could consider deeding the property to the fire department.
Willis said the county is in a similar predicament with the new county courthouse. The courthouse will be deeded to the bonding company for seven years, after which the bonds that finance the courthouse are paid off.
Tanner also worries about the future. If Indian Land incorporates, an idea that has been discussed frequently by Panhandle residents, the county would still own the fire department's property.
"I just feel it's a poor investment to put all that money into land we don't own," Tanner said.
Fire board member Brian Carnes said if the Panhandle incorporates, it would likely continue getting fire service from Lancaster County because of the expense of having independent fire service.
Carnes said he isn't worried about the fire department property being in Lancaster County's name.
"We have talked to a judge who said that any property that is purchased with the fire commission money has to be used in accordance to what the fire commission's wishes are," Carnes said.
Tanner said she is considering contacting an attorney for advice.