City Council approves purchase of facility for new fire station – News – GoUpstate
Spartanburg City Council voted Monday to purchase the much debated 450 Wofford Street property. The property will be renovated for use as the new downtown fire station. The $4.3 million purchase, which includes two adjacent properties, was approved at a 6-1 vote.
The original resolution to purchase the building, which formerly housed Integral Solutions, Inc., for $4.5 million was tabled on June 10, and followed by an approved amendment to remove the 3 mil tax increase that would fund the purchase and the estimated $4.5 million renovation, proposed by District 1 City Councilman Sterling Anderson. The amended budget was approved at a 6-1 vote with no discussion after an hour-and-a-half long executive session on June 25.
Anderson, who was adamantly against the purchase of the Wofford Street property for use as a fire station from the resolution’s introduction in May, voted against the resolution to purchase the property. Anderson argued in May and June for the construction of a new building for the fire station.
“In no way interpret my position as not supporting (the fire department) and giving them everything they need to get their job done. My position was based simply on my experience in business, of construction and advice,” Anderson said of his decision. “But I am a team player, I’m on a team … and I’m with you. We’re going to go forward and make this thing work. The facility has many attributes and I think we can make that and capitalize on that going forward.”
The proposed 3 mil tax increase, to fund the purchase and renovation of the 66,000-square-foot 450 Wofford St. facility, is currently still off the table and council members Anderson and Jamie Fulmer argued that it should remain so. The rejected tax increase would have had city residents and businesses see a 2.8 percent increase in city charges and a 0.6 percent increase overall to provide $435,000 in revenue.
“Once we get past price, my concern is how we’re going to pay for it,” Fulmer said. “We talked about capital projects. We can’t continue to put these things in vacuums and think about these things as one-offs; we have to think about these capital improvement projects in the context of a long-range type plan.”
Fulmer said he was adamantly against funding the renovation with a millage increase.
“I think we have to learn to live within the means of our annual budget,” Fulmer said.
The Wofford facility is a mix of office and warehouse space. Renovation plans shown to city council during their tour of the facility in May show the administrative wing, former IT department and kitchen of the building remaining as they are, and one large room toward the front of the building will be converted into a space for the station’s main fire engines. Renovation plans also included adding interior walls to partition the warehouse area for living space and possibly adding a bay door in the warehouse for engines that are not routinely used or for housing Station 3.
Key talking points in favor of the Wofford Street property are the abundant space it would allow the fire department and the storage, flexible office space and permanent home for IT it would offer the city.
City Manager Chris Story said the purchase of the building would be finalized in the next few weeks and would be paid for from reserve funds. In the coming months, a more exact cost of renovation will be determined and options for funding discussed.