F'ville rejects fire consolidation by a 3-2 vote

It lasted more than four hours, but in the end the Fayetteville City Council Wednesday night voted 3-2 against consolidating the city’s fire department with Fayette County fire services. And the crowd roared with approval.

The council chambers were packed to the point that many filled the foyer and spilled over into the area just outside the building where speakers had been set up for the overflow crowd to hear the proceedings. The nearly 250 in attendance were a mix of city residents, business owners, firefighters and their families.

Approximately 40 people took to the podium during the public comments portion of the meeting which consumed the bulk of the proceedings. To say that passions ran at nearly a fever-pitch would be an understatement, with all but one of the speakers adamantly rejecting the idea of consolidation.

In the end and just after the council began to discuss the issue Councilman Ed Johnson said,” I’m incredulous that we’re discussing (consolidation) after putting it down two years ago. Why it came up for a vote bewilders me. Maybe it’s because there are two new councilmen.”

Johnson then made a motion to defeat the proposal to consolidate.

Though Mayor Greg Clifton tried initially to stop the motion by telling Johnson he had not been recognized, Clifton quickly relented. It was then that the two new councilmen wasted no time in making their positions known. Councilman Scott Stacy seconded the motion and Councilman Jim Williams minutes later referenced a comment made by county historian Carolyn Cary earlier in the meeting.

“I think the most important thing that came across tonight was near the beginning of the meeting when someone said ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Williams said. Again the crowd roared with approval.

The discussion that followed included comments by Councilman Paul Oddo and Councilman Mickey Edwards, both noting, among other things, the potential of having to increase property taxes by the projected $48 or perhaps more if consolidation did not occur. And the crowd roared again, this time voicing their approval that taxes be raised if needed if it meant keeping the fire department under the city’s control.

Clifton then attempted to inject the idea that a vote Wednesday night would be to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the county that could be voted on later. That assertion went nowhere and the vote on Johnson’s motion followed almost immediately.

Voting in favor of turning down the move to consolidate fire services were Johnson, Stacy and Williams. Oddo and Edwards were opposed. Clifton then congratulated the audience and the meeting ended.

For a more detailed version of the proceedings please check next Wednesday’s edition of The Citizen.

HALO's picture
Joined: 09/25/2010
Uncalled for attack

What a meeting it was with 250 plus people ready to listen , speak their minds, defend the Fayetteville Fire Department and voice their opposition or support for the consolidation offer. The meeting started off with the County Proposal, the city manager presentation and then Fayetteville’s Fire Chief Alan Jones presentation. Chief Jones gave a presentation that was very emotional and his message was delivered with such passion as he laid it all on the line.

Now that the Consolidation Meeting has taken place and the decision to reject the consolidation offer has been made, everything returns to normal as if this never happened. Not so fast!

Citizens came out ready to voice their support or opposition to consolidation. The meeting was emotional for many in attendance. At times it got a little heated between the Mayor and some in attendance but that can be expected and at times fun to watch. During the public comments a couple comments were made that cast a negative light on the County Fire Service and that is what I am going to address here. Fayette County Fire and Emergency Services took a beating that I don’t think was deserved. This consolidation was started by the Political figures and not Chief Scarbrough or Chief Jones. Comments that slammed Fayette Counties fire personnel were hurtful, disrespectful and uncalled for. The old saying “Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, that’s not always the case. Sometime words hurt worse and cut a lot deeper than actual injuries. Those men and women work hard to serve and protect those in the community. They do not let homes burn down because they are afraid, they put their lives on the line everyday just as the men and women of Fayetteville do. To have them attacked like they were was bad enough but for no one to stand up and defend them, bothers me even more. I feel like I failed as a fellow Fire Fighter because I did not say anything at the time the comments were made. We are all trained to maintain a professional image at all times and I am sure most of you agree that defending our Brother’s is the professional thing to do. Some did attempt to defend the County later in the evening but it should have been stopped when it started. Fayette County Fire personnel, the Fayetteville Fire Department personnel have the utmost respect for you all and are proud to work side by side with you every day. Just as you all are proud of where you work, the Fayetteville Fire fighters are proud of where they are as well. You have worked so well together for so many years you do not have to be consolidated for that relationship to continue.

Citizens of Fayetteville, THANK YOU for supporting your fire service. I am sure they will serve with FAYETTEVILLE PRIDE for as long as they are allowed to.

City Council and County Commission let’s not do this again, this is the 3rd time it has come up and gone down. The citizens have spoken.

GAGAL's picture
Joined: 07/19/2006
Too close for comfort

I attended the meeting Wednesday nights with regard to consolidating Fayetteville's fire department with Fayette County fire services. After over four hours, with 40 of Fayetteville's citizens speaking against this horrible proposal, our mayor and two of our Councilmen (Oddo and Edwards) stuck to their guns and tried to throw our brave and honorable firemen under the bus. To think that our beloved fire department was only saved by one vote, makes me sick. As I left the meeting, people were saying, "How did we elect this guy?" (referring to Clifton). Not to worry ... we'll rectify that mistake in the next election!

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