Supervisors remove Megasite from new fire district
A plan that would have given Canton control of a new fire district encompassing the new Amazon distribution center was rejected Wednesday because three south Madison County supervisors were opposed.
District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones, District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter and District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen approved a motion to create a new fire district outside the Canton city limits that did not include the Madison County Megasite, which officials had said was initially intended to be in the new district.
The new fire district will not include the county’s Megasite that will be the home of several businesses including an Amazon distribution center, nor will it overlap with areas currently served by the Gluckstadt Fire Department or in the Gluckstadt Fire District’s coverage area.
The decision to create the new fire district and to exclude the Megasite came after an hour-long meeting that included a public hearing on the issue during which five people spoke.
Three of those spoke in favor of the new district and two wanted to ensure the new district did not overlap with areas served by the Gluckstadt Fire Department and the Gluckstadt Fire District.
After the public hearing, District 4 Supervisor and Board of Supervisors President Karl Banks made an initial motion for the fire district to include the Megasite.
Banks included in his motion for a new $1.4 million fire truck recently purchased by the county with state funds to be housed at the Canton Fire Department with the county retaining ownership of the truck.
During discussion, Steen made a substitute motion to exclude the Megasite from the new district and to get an update from County Administrator Shelton Vance and County Attorney Mike Espy at the board’s July 19 meeting on possibilities for funding and creating a separate fire district just for the Megasite.
Steen’s substitute motion did not include anything about the new fire truck.
“The fire truck that we have already ordered should not be in this motion at all at this point,” Steen said. “Leave the fire truck as is at this stage.”
During discussion of Steen’s substitute motion, District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin said Steen was acting in favor of business over the people.
“He’s saying to hell with the people and go all with the business out there,” Griffin said. “That’s what he is saying.”
Griffin and Banks said they believe the people who live in Districts 4 and 5 who are in their districts and who will be paying for the district should have the benefits of the Canton district.
The board approved Steen’s substitute motion 3-2 with Banks and Griffin voting against it.
Steen said the board could always come back and add the Megasite to the new fire district later if they choose to do so, but they had to create the new district Wednesday to get the millage rate enacted and on the rolls by July 1 to have it on the books by January 2022.
“We are actually under a timeline,” Steen said. “If we want to come back and put the Megasite under that district we can actually do that if we think that is the best thing to do at that time because there is zero money that is going to come from that Megasite this year.”
The new district created will be funded by an 8 mill levy on people who live in the district.
One mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.