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Sanibel Fire sets tentative millage, budget

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Sep 16, 2021

news@breezenewspapers.com

For the first time in a decade, the Sanibel Fire & Rescue will likely raise its millage after holding its first of two public hearings Thursday at the firehouse on Palm Ridge Road.

Nobody spoke, nor did any members of the public attend the first hearing, which lasted just four minutes. The fire commission gave the green light to raise the tentative, not-to-exceed millage from 1.1089 to 1.389 mills, the first increase in almost a decade and still the lowest millage rate among all the fire districts in Lee County.

One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable property valuation, in this case $1.38.9 per $1,000 for fire service. For the owner of a $400,000 home, the tax increase will come to about $80, according to Deputy Chief Kevin Barbot.

The commissioners also approved the tentative overall budget of $11,395,022 and the operational budget of $7,507,433.

Among the highlights of this budget include a new security system which will cost $60,000, an air system that has to be updated, which could run another $50,000, and an increase to the apparatus reserves, which would allow the district to buy what they need with cash instead of having to finance, which makes it much less expensive.

“This way, we don’t have to borrow and it helps us in the long run because we get additional discounts by paying for it up front,” Fire Chief William Briscoe said.

They are also putting money aside for a new vehicle for the fire marshall and Fire Station No. 2 because the center bays are no longer usable because the new trucks are larger than what they used to have and no longer fit in the bays.

Briscoe said he and the commissioners must decide to either replace the bays or rebuild the entire station.

The second and final public hearing, which will officially ratify the budget, will be Thursday, Sept. 23, at 5:01 p.m. at the firehouse on Palm Ridge Road.

That meeting had been set for Wednesday, Sept. 15, but was postponed because not enough commissioners would have been present for a quorum.