Denying that merger talks had ceased, Parks told the council they would need patience in order to get a result. The county’s 2010 Fire Study called for a merger of Providence with the Wesley Chapel fire department, although it did not dictate the terms of the merger or how the district should be re-aligned. Weddington officials are concerned about the department’s ability to survive on its own and helped the two groups form a steering committee earlier this year, to discuss how a merger would work. Parks asked that people give the committee more time to work.
“We’re not 90 days into it, basically still gathering information,” Parks said. “We said this was going to be a 12 to 18 month process and nothing’s happened that was unexpected.”
The issue right now, Parks said, is that members from both departments have questioned how exactly a merger would work.
Wesley Chapel operates on a fire tax, while Providence charges a fire fee. Although fire fees may likely become a thing of the past given the recent support in both the North Carolina House and Senate to repeal them, if Wesley Chapel absorbs the Providence VFD, the fire tax rate will likely need to increase.
The next scheduled meeting of the steering committee is April 18, with Mayor Nancy Anderson and county commissioner Jonathan Thomas, the county’s representative on the fire commission, in attendance.