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Daytona Beach--City Officials to Put Fire and Police Improvements before Voters

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  • Daytona Beach--City Officials to Put Fire and Police Improvements before Voters

    News Journal

    Commission may seek referendum on tax hike

    By JOHN BOZZO
    Staff Writer

    Last update: 19 June 2003


    DAYTONA BEACH -- Passing the buck to those who pay, the City Commission decided Wednesday to consider asking voters to approve spending about $29 million for a new westside fire station and a new police headquarters.

    But commissioners nixed a $4 million proposal to move firefighting operations from a historic downtown station to a former elementary school.

    Commissioners unanimously agreed to vote at their July 2 meeting on whether to ask voters to approve issuing bonds to be repaid by a new tax to pay for the new facilities.

    "We have to recognize the extreme need for these facilities," Mayor Bud Asher said. "If we're going to do any of this, the public has to make the decision."

    Police Chief Dennis Jones and Fire Chief Larry Taft told commissioners their staffs have outgrown existing facilities. Taft also said the new westside fire station is needed because the area is growing so far from existing stations that it takes up to 12 minutes to respond to emergencies.

    Commissioner Charles Cherry said, "The major function of this commission is to provide public safety for our citizens. We need to think about the future."

    Despite the unanimous support, some commissioners worried about asking voters for more money before next year's budget plan is completed.

    Commisssioners hit property owners with a 25.5 percent tax increase this year and city staff is considering asking for another 5 percent increase next year, not including the cost of new fire and police stations.

    "I think we're a little premature at this point until we get some budget resolution," Commissioner Mike Shallow said.

    The voter referendum might even be postponed until next year, depending on the city's financial shape, Commissioner Yvonne Scarlett-Golden said.

    On the historic downtown station built in 1925 at Orange Avenue and Beach Street, commissioners voted 6-1, with Cherry dissenting, to scuttle a plan to relocate firefighting operations to an old school.

    The voted ended a city staff proposal to spend $610,000 to buy the former South Ridgewood Avenue Elementary School, built in 1916, from the Volusia County School District. Another $3.5 million would be needed to renovate the school to serve as a fire station and administrative offices for the Fire Department.

    Commissioner Rick Shiver, a retired firefighter, said the $610,000 would be better spent to help build a new westside station rather than "relocating a perfectly good fire station to someplace where we don't need it."

    [email protected]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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