Harlem and Grovetown leaders will decide at city council meetings Monday whether to accept or decline the latest proposal for the city departments to provide fire service in the county's unincorporated areas.
Harlem's city council spent a Thursday work session discussing the agreement, which states that each city department will be paid $532 for every call they respond to outside their city limits.
An agreement that satisfies county and city leaders is the final step in the county's plan to convert from subscription fees paid directly to private fire departments to collecting funds for fire service through property tax bills.
The county Board of Commissioners agreed to omit city residents from the otherwise countywide millage rate increase and to contract with the city departments to continue providing fire service to the unincorporated areas of the districts they currently serve.
But it is the short term of the agreement being negotiated that worries Harlem Fire Chief Raymond Fulcher. It would expire at the end of the year with no automatic renewal. The city council is planning to ask for at least a two-year term.
"It would be real hard for us to do any kind of budgeting," Fulcher said. "(The two-year term) would give us some ability to do some budgeting and some planning."
Harlem leaders have collaborated with their city attorney, Drew Demott, to rewrite a less complicated agreement to would serve both city and county needs.
"It doesn't go into as much detail as (the county's) contract, but it protects both sides," Demott said. "It's a fair deal."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.