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North Fire District getting budget together

September 11, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers Fire Control & Rescue Service District will continue to update its apparatus as well as plan for the future when it presents its 2020 budget.

The district will hold the first of two public hearings on the budget Monday, Sept. 16, at 5:05 p.m. at the firehouse on Trail Dairy Circle. The second public hearing will be Monday, Sept. 30, at 5:05 p.m., when the budget will be approved.

The budget has not yet been finalized for the hearings. However, Fire Chief David Rice said the district is going to continue to update its vehicles, which have not been replaced since the recession hit a decade ago.

"I want to get some vehicles for our inspectors and I'm looking into purchasing a new brush truck because the old one is a 2002 model and is just beat up," Rice said.

Rice also wants to put money in reserves because they have another engine replacement coming up next year, and also replace some of the Personal Protection Equipment and other tactical gear the firefighters use during hazardous operations like fighting fires.

"I really want to build up some reserves for the next administration when it takes over when I leave," Rice said. "The buildup in reserves can help us buy new air packs and replace all the rescue trucks."

Rice said the rest are little construction items such as interior painting and maintenance that has been put off. The district is also looking to hire another inspector.

With the district facing deep cuts in service, residents approved a referendum in 2016 to cap the millage rate at 3.50 mills, up from the original 2.50 mills. It was the first increase in 13 years and allowed the district to replace engines and to dig out of the hole it was buried in after the recession cut ad valorem taxes in half.

Rice said the increase basically saved the district as it allowed them to replace much of its old equipment, but would like to see the area grow a little more. He said he would like to see Paradise Isles developed so another fire station can potentially be built there.

"We need more growth. It seems when we build a Dollar General or something else, another business goes out of business," Rice said.

Last year's budget was approximagtely $14.7 million. The millage, as proposed is is 3.50 mills which it has been since 2016.



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