Bayshore Fire District working on its budget
The Bayshore Fire District, which serves easternmost North Fort Myers from Slater Road to State Road 31, has slowly been crawling out from the hole it’s been in since the recession a decade ago decimated the department.
However, the budget the district plans to put out will show that area is finally catching up to where it was in 2007.
Bayshore held its first public hearing on the budget Monday at the fire house on 17350 Nalle Road where people got to take the first look at it.
The millage will remain at 3.50 mills in its tentative $2.16 million budget. It will also continue to use SAFER grants to fund three full-time firefighters, though the district will have to start matching those grants at a 25 percent rate the next two years, going up to 65 percent in 2022.
Fire Chief Larry Nisbet said the area is beginning to see some momentum as new construction comes in and the valuations of established property pick up to about two-thirds of where they were before the real estate crash that began in 2006 when market values started to plummet.
“We’re looking at getting some funds built up so we won’t have to be as reliant on SAFER as we have in the past,” Nisbet said. “We’re getting set up so there won’t be further reductions and we’ll be able to get three more firefighters so we’re where we were before.”
The district is trying to build back up the reserves it spent during the past several years.
Bayshore will soon provide service for the Lee County portion of Babcock Ranch once construction begins there, though that isn’t expected for another three to five years, Nisbet said.
Bayshore is not expected to add any new engines or trucks, barring anything unforeseen. However, the frontline engine is 11 years old and will soon need to be replaced, and other vehicles are also aging.
“We’ve been having meetings where we said it was time to start thinking about it. We have a truck that’s 18 years old and we might have to do something with that,” Nisbet said. “If we do anything big, it’s going to be our portable radios because the county is going to a new system which we’re required to go to by federal statute.”
Bayshore has a grant in for that, but the status of it is unknown, Nisbet said. The cost of the radios is expected to be around $130,000.
Future plans include a second station at Babcock and getting a replacement schedule for the apparatus so the area can keep its ISO rating of 2.
The second public hearing on the budget will be Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. at the fire station, where it is to be approved.
“We’re optimistic that even though there are indications of the economy slowing down. We think with new construction we will be able to improve our levels of service,” Nisbet said.