Fire commissioners approve preliminary millage rate
The Fort Myers Beach Board of Fire Commissioners voted to approve a preliminary millage rate of 2.9851 per thousand dollars of assessed value at its latest meeting, keeping the rate steady.
A tentative budget hearing is scheduled for Sept. 5. The district will have to borrow for its new fire station, the cost of which still needs to be determined. The commission is also expected to be reviewing a new contract for its firefighters and paramedics.
Fort Myers Beach Fire Department Chief Matthew Love told the Board of Fire Commissioners this past week that he expects to finally close on the old Topps lot by the end of the month. The property has been identified as the site for a future fire station.
The fire commissioners approved Love’s proposal to enter into an agreement to purchase the two parcels, adjacent to the town hall at 2545 and 2555 Estero Boulevard, in January at a cost of $3.99 million. The two lots, with a total assessed taxable valuation of $2,124,090, won’t be needed entirely by the fire department, Love told the commissioners. The plan has been for the new firehouse to replace Station 31 at the intersection of Donora Boulevard.
Love said the Estero Boulevard frontage is not necessary to the department’s plans. “Our hope is we don’t have to use the whole property,” he said. Love has stated that some of the property could be used for commercial purposes.
Love said that a committee is working on preparing the documents to request proposals from constractors for the construction of the new fire station, which will also be looked over by the department’s counsel.
Love told the commission that there has been 11 applications submitted for the new information technology position the department is looking to create. The cost for the position has been budgeted at $79,500 according to Executive Assistant Chief Ron Martin. The District currently spends between $42,000 to $68,000 on CRS Technology to handle much of the work that a full-time employee would take over. In addition, the district spends another $33,750 annually in internal staff compensation for IT related services, Martin said.
Requests now required for agenda packets
Those seeking detailed information on agenda items and resolutions brought forth by Love and the department to the commissioners, won’t find the details on the board’s website starting this month. Instead, those seeking such information will have to make a formal request to the department to do so.
According to Martin, the department has enacted the new rules after the state legislature loosened requirements on special districts “to post full board packets and every piece of documentation related to a board meeting to their respective website. This process for very small taxing districts can be time-consuming and arduous,” he stated in an email. The department will continue to post meeting agendas, but packet material which in the past has included such information as the number of incidents and responses, will not be posted on the website.
Commission chairman Larry Wood referred further questions on the subject to Love.
Multiple messages left for Love to seek further clarification, were not returned.
In the last couple weeks, the department had two fires that it reported responding to.
Lightning caused one of the fires which struck a home July 15 on the 5400 block of Avenida Pescadora. Love described it as an attic fire.
According to Executive Assistant Chief Ron Martin, there was light smoke and some damage to the roof. The fire was quickly contained, with no injuries.
Two days later, the department did an door-to-door neighborhood canvas. Love said department members went to nearby homes and asked homeowners whether they had smoke alarms and offered to install them for those that didn’t.
This past Monday, the department responded to a report of a structure fire in the 8100 block of Estero.
“Upon arrival a small fire was discovered on the exterior of the structure which was brought quickly under control by Beach Fire units,” Martin stated in an email.