COVINGTON — Newton County will move forward with building a new fire station on the eastern side of the county following a unanimous vote by the Board of Commissioners last week.
The county expects the new fire station will cost about $3 million to construct, with an additional estimated $875,000 for apparatus and equipment. Staffing and training personnel would be additional costs.
Commissioners moved quickly to push the project forward after learning that fire insurance premiums for some homeowners in Districts 1 and 5 had soared following an October audit by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). That audit resulted in increased ISO ratings that subsequently led to the higher rates. The ISO creates ratings for fire departments and their communities on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best.
County Manager Lloyd Kerr said the county is looking at possible sites for the new station on County Road 213, Big Woods Road, Starrsville Road, Elks Club Road, Dixie Road or Poplar Hill Road. Kerr said each of those sites was identified in an effort to place the largest portion of the population possible within 5 road miles from a fire station, a key criteria in setting ISO ratings.
The new eastside station, in conjunction with the new fire station set to be built on Gum Creek Road north of Oxford and the county’s seven other stations, would place about 95 percent of the county’s population within that 5-mile distance, Kerr said.
Kerr recommended that the county bond the project and that they consider establishing a Newton County Public Facilities Authority to issue the bonds. Issuing bonds through an authority would result in better bond rates and lower fees, he said. However, commissioners were uncertain about how much control an authority would have over a bond issuance and decided to postpone those decisions until they have more information.