For years, the Canton City Council has considered ways of outfitting the city with new fire stations to better protect citizens in far-flung areas on the outskirts of the city.
After a crushing defeat of a $6 million bond referendum to fund three new fire stations last month, the council voted to have Councilman Bob Rush communicate with the consulting firm Ecological Planning Group to obtain a price to perform a study and determine different ways the city could accomplish the goal of getting the three new stations. The stations would be in Laurel Canyon, The Bluffs and near Canton Marketplace.
The city of Canton had in the past gotten a quote from EPG for a study, but in March voted for the option of volunteer firefighters working at the stations to be added to the price, as suggested by Councilman Glen Cummins.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Rush said he spoke with the company and the quote would be the same as the last one they received of about $14,000.
Cummins said that even with the study considering volunteers as he suggested, it still wouldn’t cover a broad enough scope.
“We still haven’t considered the two other options,” Cummins said of other possible ways he has suggested the issue of fire services could be resolved.
Those options, Cummins said, are a consolidation of the Canton fire department with the Cherokee County Fire Department and a hybrid method in which the county would foot the bill for construction on the three stations and the city would contract them out to staff and run the stations.
The second method, he said, could cost the city about $230,000 a year, which would result in a millage increase of about one third of a mill.
Councilman John Beresford took issue with Cummins’ mention of consolidating with the county, which was the most suggested alternative to the fire bond referendum by its opponents.
Beresford has been outspoken in his opposition to the idea of consolidation.
“We are a city, and we don’t need the county hovering over us,” he said.
A motion to allow Rush to continue with the study, without adding Cummins’ other options, passed 5-to-1, with Cummins the lone