Realignment of Fire Districts in Southern Cabarrus County Responds to Rural Growth

CABARRUS COUNTY, NC (WBTV) – Cabarrus County officials discuss a fire district realignment plan that improves fire medical and emergency response times in areas not incorporated south of Cabarrus.

The plan affects approximately 1,500 homes between Harrisburg and Midland.

County Fire Marshal Jacob Thompson presented the plan at the February Board of Commissioners business meeting. His office will spend the next month informing residents of the change ahead of a public hearing on March 21 and a possible vote. If approved, the realignment would take place on July 1.

In North Carolina, fire districts are funded by fire taxes paid by district property owners. County commissioners set service boundaries and tax rates for districts in the unincorporated county of Cabarrus, while offices of the County Fire Marshal and Emergency Management provide support to those districts.

In 2020, Cabarrus County commissioned North Carolina Fire Chief Consulting to assess the effectiveness of fire department deployment, improvements in Insurance Services Office (ISO) inspections, and response times. Staff used the study to find cost-effective ways to improve service areas. Among the results was a recommendation to change local fire district lines to match growth.

Cabarrus County is one of the fastest growing areas in the state. Rural development added concentrated pockets of homes to previously uninhabited land and required no medical, fire and/or police response to save lives and property.

Officials used county GIS technology to track new homes and assess how distance affects the agency’s response. The county then presented response data from the closest unit to fire departments and the public, showing that redistricting improves response times.

Thompson has seen firsthand the work that local fire districts put into skill development and equipment acquisition and maintenance. The departments gaining homes as part of the realignment have all achieved an ISO Class 4 rating. This score reflects how prepared an area is for a fire. The lower a department scores on the 10-point scale, the better prepared it is. This may have an impact on insurance rates.

“All of our departments provide an exceptional response, but when it comes to public safety, seconds count,” Thompson said. “We have an option that accommodates growth while improving service. It is in the owners interest that we keep pace with the changing landscape of Cabarrus County and make adjustments along the way.

If the recommendation goes ahead, it will change the number of tax-paying households in the affected districts. Property owners in the realignment areas will have to pay a new amount of fire tax. Current tax rates are: Flowes Store at 7 cents, Allen at 7.5 cents, Georgeville at 9.2 cents, Midland Rural at 10 cents and Harrisburg Rural at 15 cents. The rate applies to every $100 of property value.

In the coming weeks, Thompson and his team will reach out to affected owners and distribute resources to help communicate the changes. The county will also host a walk-in public information session on March 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the CC Griffin Middle School Media Center (7650 Griffins Gate Dr. SW, Concord). The meeting will allow landowners to review maps and meet with officials.

For more information on the proposed changes, visit cabarruscounty.us.

The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the redistricting on March 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the rooms of the Government Center (65 Church Street S, Concord).

Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.