West Ashley district considering new insurance fee for drivers

Emily Landeen (WCIV)

By Stacy

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCIV) -- The St. Andrews Public Service District commission is considering a new service fee that would bill motorists' insurance if they receive assistance from St. Andrews firefighters.

It would be billed to drivers' insurance companies, said officials.

"We're trying to keep property taxes low. We're trying to find a way that would generate income that would prevent us from having to raise taxes," said Chairman Charlie Ledford.

The commission faced skyrocketing costs after its four fire stations became part of Charleston County's automatic aid program, said officials.

According to St. Andrews PSD records, in 2008, firefighters responded to 987 calls. By 2012, that number soared, to 5,351 calls. And in 2013, St. Andrews firefighters responded to 5,284 calls, officials said.

"We never anticipated the amount of increased call volume we've received," said District Manager Christie Holderness.

To combat costs, the commission looked in to alternative funding. It settled on a service fee, but hadn't ironed out all the details.

Ledford said they still need to determine what to do and say, how to bill the fee and who will be billed.

"If we keep going like we're going, we're going to go in the hole. We can't. We always stay in the black. We can't run a deficit,"he said.

The commission wanted to know what the people of its district thought, before it made a final decision. It will hold a public comment period at its next meeting on Monday, April 7 at 6 p.m.