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Sanibel fire district approves millage rate, budget for next fiscal year

By Staff | Sep 19, 2018

TIFFANY REPECKI The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District's Board of Commissioners adopted the millage rate and budget for fiscal year 2018-2019 at its second budget hearing on Sept. 12. Pictured are, from left, Fire Chief Matt Scott, Commissioner Bruce Cochrane, Commissioner Mike Lawrence and Administrator Mary Hickey; Commissioner Jerry Muench had an excused absence.

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District adopted a final millage rate of 1.1089 and budget of $8,363,650 for the upcoming fiscal year at its second and final budget hearing.

On Sept. 12, the board of commissioners voted unanimously 2-0 for the tentative rate – an increase from the rolled back rate of 1.0852 – and general fund for 2018-2019, which starts Oct. 1. The rate is a 2.18 percent increase over the rolled back rate, providing for proceeds of $5,900,497 for next year.

A mill is $1 per every $1,000 of taxable valuation. The rolled back rate is the rate it would take to generate the same amount of revenue in the coming fiscal year as was generated in the previous year.

The Lee County Property Appraiser’s Office has certified for the fire district that the “gross taxable value for operating purposes” – not exempt from taxation – for the island is $5,264,707,323.

Commissioner Bruce Cochrane commented on the votes.

“It’s a yearlong process,” he said of the budget.

Fire Chief Matt Scott thanked the commissioners for their support.

“We’re thinking about the future and what’s going on in the present,” he said.

Commissioner Jerry Muench had an excused absence.

Prior to the final budget hearing, the commission convened for its monthly meeting.

The board voted 2-0 for the district’s administration to publish a request for proposal for audit services for the district. The resolution also outlined that the board would establish an audit committee, which will review the submitted proposals and select the firm.

Assistant Fire Chief William Briscoe told the commission that the promotion exams to fill openings resulting from the recent resignation of Capt. Rob Popkin is complete. Lt. Kevin Barbot was promoted to the open captain position, while John DiMaria was promoted to the newly vacated lieutenant spot.

Two employees tested for the captain promotion, and seven tested for the lieutenant promotion.

On Aug. 20, firefighter Lisa Mann joined the team in the vacated entry-level spot.

Briscoe also reported on the geo survey for the 45-foot tower at Station 172.

“That’s been completed,” he said. “I have the tentative price.”

Briscoe is working with Lee County staff on getting bids to put the tower in and run the cables.

He also noted that there is a leak in the roof of Station 172’s bay, which he is getting quotes on to fix.

Scott told the commission that the new ladder truck is officially in the district’s possession. Finishing equipment was being put on it while the district waited on a part from the dealer due to a “hiccup.”

“I’m hoping next week that the truck will go into service full-time,” he said.

Fire Marshal Rick Tassoni provided an update on several projects.

He reported that Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen is on schedule and expected to open in October. The Sanibel Sunset Beach Resort hopes to acquire its demolition permit in January or February for reconstruction.

“The plans are there,” Tassoni said of the project. “It’s just a long process.”

The Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce expects to start renovations by early October.

“That should take a few months,” he said.

Tassoni also noted that fire inspections have been going well.

“Our violations are kind of lower this year than last year,” he said. “People are just taking care of what they need to take care of.”

Training Officer Capt. Tim Barrett told the commission that “rapid attack” training – getting a hose line to a door – is the next focus. The benchmark is one minute to the door and one minute to the fire.

Employees continue to conduct medical training with Lee County EMS.

In addition, staff also spent two days training with an Army civil support team.

“That was pretty interesting,” he said.

IN OTHER NEWS

– Lt. Brian Howell was recognized for his 17 years of service.

– In August, the district responded to 112 calls for service, compared to 125 during the same time period last year. The year-to-date calls for service were 1,232, compared to 1,127 for last year.