2017 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 4 - Counties
CHAPTER 19 - FIRE PROTECTION SERVICES
Section 4-19-20. Prerequisites to creation of fire protection district; ad valorem taxes within district.

Universal Citation: SC Code § 4-19-20 (2017)

Before the establishment of a fire protection district pursuant to this chapter, the governing body must comply with the following requirements:

(1) The governing body shall, by resolution, order a public hearing to be held on the question of the establishment of the district.

(2) Notice of the hearing must be published once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county and the notice must state:

(a) the time and place of the public hearing, provided that the date of the public hearing must not be less than sixteen days following the first publication of the notice;

(b) a description of the area to be included within the proposed fire protection district;

(c) whether there must be levied within the proposed fire protection district ad valorem taxes for the operation and maintenance of it;

(d) whether there must be imposed rates and charges within the proposed fire protection district for the operation and maintenance of it; and

(e) whether the governing body is empowered to issue general obligation bonds of the county, payable from an ad valorem tax levied within the district, for the purpose of providing fire protection service in it.

(3) The hearing must be conducted publicly and both proponents and opponents of the proposed action must be given full opportunity to be heard.

(4) Following the hearing, the governing body, by ordinance, may establish the fire protection district and, in order to provide for the operation and maintenance of it, authorize the levy of an annual ad valorem tax on all taxable property within the fire protection district or the imposition of rates and charges for fire protection services within the fire protection district, or both. The governing body shall specifically find by ordinance that the establishment of the fire protection district satisfies the requirements and conditions set forth in Section 4-19-10 and in this section. The governing body also shall provide for the administration of the fire protection district. The fire protection district may be operated as an administrative division of the county, or the governing body may appoint a commission consisting of three to seven members and provide for their duties and terms of office.

(5) The governing body shall give notice of its action by publishing it once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation within the county, which shall state:

(a) the boundaries of the fire protection district;

(b) whether there must be levied within the proposed fire protection district ad valorem taxes for the operation and maintenance of it;

(c) whether there must be imposed rates and charges within the proposed fire protection district for the operation and maintenance of it; and

(d) whether the governing body is empowered to issue general obligation bonds of the county, payable from an ad valorem tax levied within the district for the purpose of providing fire protection service in it.

(6) A person affected by the action of the governing body taken in accordance with this section, by action de novo instituted in the court of common pleas for the county, within twenty days following the last publication of the notice prescribed by item (5) of this section, but not afterwards, may challenge the action of the governing body.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 14-700.202; 1974 (58) 2681; 1984 Act No. 408, Section 2; 1992 Act No. 519, Section 3, eff thirty days after September 3, 1992.

Editor's Note

1992 Act No. 519 Section 1, effective thirty days after September 3, 1992, provides as follows:

"SECTION 1. As incident to the adoption of this amendment to Act 408 of the Acts and Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, the General Assembly finds that Act 408 of 1984, which was adopted in order to reverse the holding of the Supreme Court of South Carolina in the case of City of Myrtle Beach v. Richardson, 280 S.C. 167, 311 S.E.2d 922 (1984), is a useful and needed vehicle for the provision of fire protection services to residents and businesses in the unincorporated areas of the State. The utility of Act 408 of 1984 has been limited by the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Carolina Power & Light Co. v. Darlington County, S.C., 405 S.E.2d 823 (1991), in which the court narrowly construed the purpose of a limitations period contained in Act 408. The court's ruling has left the creation of fire protection districts pursuant to Act 408 subject to challenge for an unlimited period of time. The General Assembly adopts this act to clarify the procedure to be followed by the governing bodies of counties in the establishment of fire protection districts, to provide that the limitations period contained in Act 408 applies to all challenges to the establishment of a taxing district for fire protection created under the act, and to provide for the validity of fire protection districts established on the effective date of this act pursuant to Act 408 of 1984."

1992 Act No. 519 Section 4, effective thirty days after September 3, 1992, provides as follows:

"SECTION 4. If any section, paragraph, clause, or provision of this act is held invalid or unenforceable under any circumstances, the holding does not affect the validity or enforceability of this act as a whole or of any other article, section, paragraph, clause, or provision of this act."

Effect of Amendment

The 1992 amendment revised the procedure for the establishment of a fire protection district and limit challenges to the establishment of a district.

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