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Board Approves $4.5 Million Loan for Sykesville Fire Department Construction

The Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department building requested the funds to help rebuild their building that was destroyed in a fire in February 2010.

After a debate over the finances, a $4.5 million loan for the fire company's new building construction was approved in a 4-1 vote by the Carroll County Board of Commissioners Thursday.

The volunteer fire company's building was destroyed by a fire in February 2010 started by a snow storm that caused the roof to collapse. While phase one of the rebuild project for the new building and fire hall was recently completed and paid for, the fire department looked to the Board for help in financing the next phases of the $7.1 million rebuild while maintaining a balanced budget.

The money was approved through the county’s low interest loan program with a 20-year repayment plan.

According to County Comptroller Robert Burk, historically the program has been offered to volunteer fire departments where the county interests bonds to finance the loan and subsequently passes through the interest at no cost to the county.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild, District 4, voted against awarding the loan to the fire department, stating that he was unsure as to the ability of the organization to pay the county back.

"The problem that I’m having is that this project was never approved by the board and it’s more than twice the original size," said Rothschild. "I want to make sure that we don’t enable this fire company to get in over their heads."

"I want them to flourish, I want them to be successful, I want them to have the resources they need, but under this scenario they’re going to get into a situation where they are going to bury themselves in debt with a project that is more than 100 percent its original size. I don’t think it’s responsible," said Rothschild.

Commissioner Doug Howard, District 5, disagreed stating that the fire department's history of fiscal responsibility and loan repayment is enough to approve their request.

"They’ve got cash reserve, they have money in reserve for equipment...We’ve got a building under construction and a fire company with a long history of paying off their loans so I think we just need to get it done," said Howard.

Eludius December 16, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Did the fire department not have any insurance? I would think the insurance would pay for the reconstruction of the building. Or is the loan needed to construct a facility much larger and more elaborate than the former?
Carroll Rover December 16, 2011 at 02:26 PM
The fire department did and continues to be insured. Yes, the facility they're building is larger than the previous building. They are building a larger hall. What most don't realize is that hall rental facilities are ingle handedly one of the best revenue resources for these fire companies to raise money to operate. Unlike other counties surrounding Carroll, our fire departments for the most part lack county funding. As a Carroll tax payer I completely support this loan. The situation is ideal. To keep our taxes low we must rely on these VOLUNTEER fire companies to help with our safety. This loan will be repaid to the county. The new hall allows the fire company to raise money allowing it to continue it's FREE service to Carroll County's residents. And while we're talking about it...if you're considering making a donation to charity this holiday season, why not donate to the Sykesville VFD? 100% of the money stays local, serves EVERYONE in our community and provides a free service 24/365. The Board of Directors are all volunteer, the Chiefs are volunteer and all the FF's are volunteer so every penny of every dollar goes to work for us. You never know when you'll have that heart attack at 3am and you need help. They'll be there for you.
Bonnie Grady December 16, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Richard Rothschild = Micro-management. It's not even his district. Has he never heard of political courtesy? So now he's pissed off Howard and his constituents, Shoemaker and his constituents, and the entire volunteer services community. When are the other commissioners going to "man up" and censure this guy??? For those who may be unsure, here's a definition for you: sen-sure (snshr) n. 1. An expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. 2. An official rebuke, as by a legislature of one of its members. tr.v. cen·sured, cen·sur·ing, cen·sures 1. To criticize severely; blame 2. To express official disapproval of Get it? The four of you need to call him out for the way he's treating YOUR constituents.
Concerned_MtAiry December 18, 2011 at 04:20 AM
I did not like much of what I saw after watching the entire hearing. If I recall correctly, this is not the first time that Mr. Rothschild has failed to extend political courtesy to another commissioner. I wonder what is going to happen when we need something in Mt. Airy? I hope the other commissioners are not the vindictive sort. These fire companies have to scratch and beg for every dollar they get. They are having trouble keeping up with the demand for service, and they cannot continue to do it with the little bit of help they receive from Carroll County. When Carroll County final realizes that it needs to plan to add a county career force, we are going to be way behind, in deep trouble, and it's going to be very costly. If they start to plan now and start paying it forward we will all be much better off. In the subsequent hearing, Mr. Rothschild suggested purchasing an RV, or using a trailer as a technical rescue unit. Anyone who knows anything at all about heavy vehicles or fire apparatus recognizes the absurdity of his statements. This vehicle, and team, will not be used on a lot of incidents, but when it is needed, it is needed badly. Mr. Rothschild, an RV is made to go camping, not to respond with haste carrying a compliment of heavy, expensive tools and equipment with specialized storage requirements that must be arranged and organized with a great deal of thought and planning.

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