Thread: Brooksville News
09-18-2002, 10:49 AM #1
One story in the paper today indicated the city is beginning to seek annexation which will include Township 22.
Here is a second article in the paper.
Angst over money hits firefighters
By DAVE SHELTON firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Sep 17, 2002
BROOKSVILLE - City firefighters are afraid for their jobs.
Lt. Joe Garda said the firehouse is rife with worry because firefighters are fearful that if the city loses revenue to the county, they could lose their jobs.
"I know that the city council has said our jobs are safe," Garda said. "But we have one councilman telling us not to worry and another says that if an opportunity arises we should take it."
As he has in the past, Vice Mayor Richard Lewis pledged that the city would continue to fund the fire department. Councilman Joseph Bernardini, however, cautioned the firefighters. "We can't guarantee anything for next year. We could go to war with Iraq in the next two months and who knows what the world will be like next year."
City Manager Richard Anderson said his staff is looking into ways of improving the pay scale for the city's 16 firefighters. Currently, the starting salary is $22,684 compared to $27,900 for the county and $32,000 at Spring Hill Fire and Rescue District.
The city is preparing for a court battle next week in its fight with the county over $332,000 in revenue the city was planning for next year from taxpayers in Township 22. The city has provided fire protection to the 3,000 residents of this area surrounding the city for 34 years.
Two months ago, the county announced it wouldn't renew its contract with the city this year. The contract expires Sept. 30.
Lawyers for the city and county are scheduled to appear before a district court judge Monday to argue their cases.
Last week, the city unveiled a proposed 2003 city budget that includes full funding for the fire department. In case the city loses the lawsuit, all capital purchases for 2003 would be put on hold to free money to maintain the fire department.
"We'll have to put off buying that new pumper for another year," said Lewis, "but, the fire department will be fully funded."
Lewis said his longer-range outlook for the fire department is even brighter.
"I don't see any layoffs," he said. "I see adding to the department through the city's growth and annexation."
"We will find the funds it (the fire department) needs regardless of the Township 22 issue," said Mayor Ernie Weaver. "If we lose Township 22, we'll absorb the loss and still be able to do most of our capital projects next year."
Bernardini interjected a more somber note.
"I don't think anybody can guarantee to a young man in the fire department that he is going to have a job here in the future," Bernardini said. "It's an individual decision that each firefighter has to make.
"If you've got 15 years in, you might want to stick it out but if you're just in one or two years you might want to look at other opportunities. I think that's something everyone of us has to do anyway."
Lewis said he is optimistic the city will win its lawsuit and bar the county from taking over Township 22 fire service. The county already provides ambulance service in the district that surrounds the city.
A similar battle is underway in Pasco County where fire departments in Dade City and St. Leo face losing tax revenues to the county, which has threatened to take over fire protection in the areas surrounding those two cities. These inter-local agreements will remain in effect for another year, according to reports.09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
"Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
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