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FMB Fire District approves budget

October 5, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

With much of the debate done at previous meetings and workshops, the Fort Myers Beach Fire Dept. Board of Commissioners quickly approved the agency's 2017-18 budget Monday.

It was over in about eight minutes, in which time the fire commissioners gave final approval on the 2.58 millage rate and the $17,756,900 budget. The millage stays the same as last year while the budget increases by about $1.4 million.

Fire Chief Matt Love said there are two areas where the bulk of the increase will be allocated. One is the recapitalization and sustainment plan, where there were expenditures that were rolled into this year or are part of a five-year catch-up on replacements.

Included are the purchase of a new fire engine, several staff cars and improvements on department facilities.

"In buildings and vehicles, we have seen a steady rise in maintenance. Hopefully, after the five-year fleet replacement we'll see a curtail in fleet maintenance," Love said. "One of our buildings is aging a bit and we're doing an assessment on what it would take to revitalize it."

Love said they are looking into whether to renovate old buildings or build new ones and an assessment on the old building will be used to make that determination.

The other will be a new salary structure where firefighters will be paid on par with what others are making, thus allowing the department to retain personnel.

"Our study came back and they were making below the average. It's been the No. 1 initiative for us and staff to take steps and get caught back up," Love said, adding that when he put the budget in place, he wanted to keep the property tax rate the same for three years.

One mill is equal to $1 of taxable property valuation.

Jane Thompson, Finance and Administrative Services director, said she as pleased with the budget.

"We looked at the budget last year and build a budget that can be sustained with the same millage. We're sticking to our plan," Thompson said.



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