By Mike Bowdoin
With the Levy County Commission voting last week to move forward with a proposed increase in the county's special assessment for fire protection services, the Chiefland City Commission voted Monday night to formally request a substantial increase in the allotment it receives to provide fire services outside the city limits.

The Commission approved the request after a presentation by Fire Chief David Burnett, who explained that the city has previously tried to negotiate an increase in the allotment numerous times with no results. Chiefland officials, along with those from Williston, have been complaining that the amount of the county's allotments have not been covering the costs for the cities to provide fire protection in the districts outside their city limits that are assigned to them.

Now, with the proposed increase in the fire tax projected to generate $645,000 next year, up from $491,000 this year, Burnett recommended that the city request an increase from $56,305 to $90,000 for fiscal year 2005-2006. He also pointed out that the $90,000 figure is a low estimate for revenues to be generated in Chiefland's District Seven and the new rates could well generate as much as $105,000 to $110,000.

"That's being conservative," Burnett said. "I think that's a fair amount."

The commission ultimately voted to approve Burnett's request, but not before there was some debate about asking for a higher amount.

Vice Mayor Betty Walker, running the meeting in the absence of Mayor Sunshine Baynard, suggested a request for $100,000 next year.

"If you ask for $100,000, they're going to give us $90,000," Walker said.

City Commissioner Alice Monyei then carried the idea forward with a motion to request $100,000, but the motion died for lack of a second.

City Commissioner Teresa Barron then made a motion to request $90,000 as recommended by Chief Burnett, and City Commissioner Teal Pomeroy seconded the motion, which passed 3-1 with Monyei voting against.

Burnett also commented on County Commissioner Danny Stevens' action at the June 21 county board meeting to request pricing on new fire trucks for county departments.

"I think that was very premature," Burnett said, noting that the county will need to have committee meetings to determine the desired specifications for the equipment before accurate price quotes can be obtained.

The County Commission has scheduled a workshop for July 19 for the purpose of continuing discussion on a study for recommended improvements to the county's fire services that will likely include a discussion of the funding allotments.