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Englewood--Citizens Upset at Fire Board

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  • Englewood--Citizens Upset at Fire Board

    Fire board hears protest

    Hearing focuses on tax rates


    ENGLEWOOD -- When residents who live within the Englewood Area Fire Control District received their trim notices recently, some had a few problems with what they saw.

    People who have been unable to resolve their concerns, typically being assessed for property they don't own or believing the bill is too high, have their chance Wednesday to protest.

    The annual protest hearing for the fire district is where people can present their case to the fire commissioners.

    The non-ad valorem taxes increased $4 for the coming year to $78.89. The money helps fund the department's $3.6 million 2003-2004 budget.

    "Most of the protests are on mistakes people think were made," said Fire Chief Michael Bonakoske.

    Oddly enough, the mistakes are likely to have been made by the Charlotte or Sarasota County Tax Collectors.

    After handling those complaints, the commission will hold another workshop on the planned effort to place a ballot issue seeking a raise to the millage rate.

    The referendum question is to be placed on the March 9 ballot, but the details of how much of the request will be are still being worked out.

    The initial effort was to seek a 0.5 millage increase, with an automatic 0.25 millage increase for the following three years.

    A 0.5 mills increase would mean an additional $37.50 a year for a home with a $100,000 assessed value and a $25,000 homestead exemption.

    Nothing is set in stone, Bonakoske said.

    If the 0.5 mills increase seems high, the district could have opted for a 3.75 mills increase under state law, but commissioners decided the smaller increase was more reasonable.

    District officials say they need the increased millage if plans to accomplish several goals in the next five years are to be accomplished.

    Those goals include:

    * Increased training and equipment to handle bio-terrorism and hazardous material incidents.

    * Significantly reduce response times.

    * Increased number of firefighters on duty.

    * Build and staff three additional fire stations.

    * Improve the district's insurance rating.

    The district currently operates four fire stations and has a staff of 46 covering an area larger than the city of St. Petersburg. In pure numbers, this means the Englewood Fire Department has one half as many firefighters per 1000 residents as do adjoining fire departments.

    The main reason for this is the district receives about one half as much funding per resident, as compared to those same departments.
    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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