Clemmons Fire Department report includes lofty rating: New fire chief brings up tax increase under consideration for next year

Published 12:10 am Thursday, June 29, 2023

CLEMMONS — Gary Styers, the new fire chief for the Clemmons Fire Department, provided lots of facts and figures in Monday night’s Clemmons Village Council meeting from the 2022 annual report, including the news announced earlier this year of achieving a lofty Class 2 rating.

“The state comes in and inspects us, and we have a grade there,” said Styers, who replaced longtime chief Jerry Brooks after his retirement at the end of 2022. “It is from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best-rated fire protection you can have. For the last five years, we were a 3, and effective in June, we have reduced that to a 2. That is to be very well appreciated and celebrated.”

Some of the other highlights from the presentation by Styers included that no citizens died due to a fire in the Clemmons Fire District, which covers 29 square miles and serves about 30,000 residents and over 1,000 commercial properties.

Styers said that there was one fire injury to a citizen and six firefighters were injured during 2022, when the total number of call responses for Station 14 on James Street and Station 10 on Peace Haven Road was 1,853 — with seven maintained trucks and a total of 61 in personnel, including volunteers.

“We’re receiving a rise in our call volume and a rise in the request for our services,” Styers said.

Clemmons fire apparatus spent more than 53,000 minutes — about one month and seven days – on calls.

Then there was this quirky tidbit: “We are more likely to run calls Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons,” Styers said. “Don’t know why.”

Clemmons also ranked near the top among Forsyth County fire departments in call volume, response time and dollars of property value saved.

Of course, all of this comes with a cost as the local population and the demand for service continues to grow at unprecedented levels. Plus, with plans to add a new station — Station 12 — after the property was acquired last year on Hampton Road, the increases with staff and truck replacements needed, along with the impacts of the economy and inflation, Styers indicated that it has come to a point of where “we have to consider the tax rate and maybe some increases there.

“We have really struggled with that with the board. We have been very patient and tried to put a lot of things on hold and tried to wait, but it’s come time to where we cannot.”

Later in the meeting, council member Michelle Barson asked Styers for more details on a tax increase.

“We’ve been pulling from (the) fund balance for a while now,” Styers said. “I will probably have to recommend it for this next fiscal year, not the one now. Kind of what we said as a board is give it another year and try to use our fund balance the best we can and be as conservative as we can, but then take a year to help folks understand what we’re trying to do and where we’re at so it will not be a shock.”

When Barson asked if there was a specific dollar figure in mind, Styers said: “I would not want to hazard a guess right now. It’s something no one wants to do, but we do have the lowest tax rate in the county. The base is very healthy. It’s just come to a point where we’ve held out as long as we could, but we have to make an adjustment, unfortunately.”

Styers said he would like to have some public meetings in the future so that people can understand more about the fire service.

“It’s something that is not cheap, but it is something that when you need it, you need it,” Styers said.

Also, in Monday night’s meeting, the council approved placing the village’s first historic marker at the Clemmons Milling Company at 4010 Hampton Road.

Planner Doug Moore explained that during the budget process, a request was made for funding to put up a historic marker every year “that would promote historic preservation and also help with community identity in having these markers.”

Moore said that the staff’s recommendation was to make Clemmons Milling Company the first of 10 properties on the compiled list that will be considered for markers.

The others are the George and Eva Hinshaw House, 3765 Clemmons Road; Clemmons Civic Club, 2870 Middlebrook Drive; Broyhill Center (former Clemmons School), 3540 Clemmons Road; Click-Brower House, 2855 Middlebrook Drive; Clemmons Moravian Church and School, 3535 Spangenberg Avenue; Clemmons Moravian Parsonage, 3536 Spangenberg Avenue; Clemmons School Girls Dormitory, 3561 Clemmons Road; Robert H. Hunter House, 3700 Clemmons Road; and the Brewer House, 4000 Hampton Road.

In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Approved Zoning Docket C-23-001, a preliminary major subdivision review for the Allen Farms Subdivision by Jack Warren Griffith, Thomas Allen Griffith and Wesley Van Griffith for 8.53 acres zoned RS-9 to include 15 lots at 6773 Idols Road. Planner Doug Moore said that the staff recommended approval and added that the Planning Board also voted in unanimous approval. The property is located on the north side of Idols Road, east of Middlebrook Drive and west of Bluestone Park Drive, with access off Finch Meadow Court and Quail Forest Drive. “The road basically comes down and makes a nice little loop around and kind of finishes out what was previously started with the development,” Moore said.
• Called for a public hearing for Zoning Docket UDO-90 to amend multiple sections in Chapter B of the Unified Development Ordinance.
• Approved Budget Amendment 23-G-6 to increase Public Safety for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, by $15,900 due to mileage over the current year estimate in the contract with Forsyth County.
• Heard from Mayor Mike Rogers about the final piece of development of the former Kmart site last Saturday with the ribbon-cutting for the Hallmark store. The facility is now completely occupied.