North Fort Myers Fire District to close station #1
Last night the North Fort Myers Fire District Board of Commissioners
held an emergency meeting to discuss the millage rate increase that
was slated to be on the November ballot.
The board voted unanimously to remove a referendum from the ballot. The referendum called for an increase in the fire district’s millage rate from 2.5 mills to 3.0 mills.
There was consensus between the board of commissioners, the district’s union and administration that the district’s residents would be over-burdened with another tax increase.
“It was an emergency meeting for two reasons,” said Fire Commission
Board Chairman Leroy Nottingham. “One was to see if we were eligible
for a Safer Grant, which we didn’t qualify for, and the other issue
was to consider an ad valorem increase.”
“North Fort Myers residents are already being overwhelmed by unemployment, falling home prices, other taxes and fees,” said North
Fort Myers Fire Chief Terry Pye. “The board felt that if the district could balance the budget, then don’t increase fire taxes at the present time.”
The bottom line is that the district will close Fire Station # 1, which is located on Willis Road in North Fort Myers.
“We are working on that plan right now, to see where and when we can do
this,” said Nottingham.
In preparing for a loss of revenue in the past two years, the district has utilized many cost saving benefits, Pye said.
“The district has reduced its suppression staffing (firefighters) through a voluntary separation plan,” he said. “Unfortunately, the district has
laid off four non-suppression personnel.”
The district limited the amount of take-home vehicles to only those that would respond to an emergency outside normal working hours.
“The union has made huge concessions in the past two years in both benefits and salary. Average pay for district employees was reduced $3,000 to $5,000 per employee,” said Pye.
The district was planning on building a new fire station but those plans have been put on hold.
There are three other stations in their district, he said. The others will remain open, with community safety in mind.
“The fire service in North Fort Myers will be maintained,” said
If you have any questions, call Pye or Chief Chris Noble at 997-8654.