Plans for repairs of the Durbin Creek Fire Station are now on hold, after Laurens County Council last night tabled action that would convey ownership of the station to the county. Durbin Creek Fire Department said it was willing to turn the building over to the county so that bonds could be sold to pay for the $50,000 in repairs.
Councilman Ted Nash motioned to move forward with the plan, seconded by Diane Anderson. During discussion, it was obvious that not all were in agreement. Joe Wood said “I have a problem about the county taking ownership of the building which means we now assume all maintenance costs.” He added “we have given money to other stations that we do not own.” County Administrator Ernie Segars replied “We were wrong in doing that, it is not proper to spend public money on private buildings.” Segars added “If the county issues a bond to repair other rural stations that need repairs, the bond attorney will not authorize it.”
Council Chairman Jim Coleman assured Wood that the county already owns a good number of its fire stations and that there are contracts that address maintenance issues. Segars noted the county lost $1.5 million due to the fire at the Ekom station, which the county does not own. County Attorney Sandy Cruickshanks said “We have liability for those we do not own now.”
Chairman Coleman told council that this is all about the bonding issue due to the fact that there are eighteen other fire buildings that are of the same age as Durbin Creek, and at least seven will be needing repairs as well, with a ball park estimate of $100,000.
Diane Anderson said more information was needed and she rescinded her seconding and asked Nash to withdraw his motion. He refused, stating the urgency of the repairs and the willingness of the Durbin Creek Fire Department to turn over the building to county.
Council finally agreed to table the action until next week, with Nash responding “I hope we do not wait too long.”