Do You Want Your Fire Department Merged Into Bonita?

25
553

By now you’ve heard about State Representative Adam Botana’s proposal to merge the Fort Myers Beach Fire District into Bonita Springs. It’s important to note that your fire district was created by voters back in 1949. Botana’s Bill will change what you’ve had without any voter input or details of how his plan will save you money.

This may be a time when you want your voice to be heard. You should have all the information you need to know whether youre getting the best fire and ambulance coverage in your community. Or, whether this merger will actually save you money.

So far, there has been no specific information shared with the public, the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control Board of Commissioners or Fire Chief Scott Wirth. The last thing anyone wants is for this plan to get through and safety coverage on the island declines or your taxes stay exactly the same.

NOTE: Fort Myers Beach Fire Chief Scott Wirth will be our guest on a special Friday Night Happy Hour episode of the program tonight at 5PM. The show will be live here on Facebook and on our YouTube Channel.

Here’s what you should know:
– There has been no documentation presented that shows this plan will save money or improve safety coverage.
– Fort Myers Beach has its own ambulance service. Bonita does not. What happens to ambulance coverage?
– Representative Botana must submit an economic impact statement before the Bill can be filed in Tallahassee. Nobody has seen this document as of yet.
– The Bill can be amended before or on October 30th when the delegation is expected to vote on it.

A section of Florida law states that in a forced merger like this, a study/plan must be done and the state must pay the cost for that study. There is however, another section that states, “The Legislature, by special act, may merge independent special districts created and operating pursuant to special act.”

The Chair of the local Florida Delegation is Jenna Persons-Mulicka. She told Beach Talk Radio News on Thursday that she wants to hear from the residents and so far she has not heard from anyone who’s in favor of this merger.

During the delegation meeting on the 30th in Fort Myers there will be time for public comment. We’re expecting a more specific agenda for that meeting and we will share it with you when it’s released.

There are two ways you can have your voice heard:
#1) Attend the Fort Myers Beach Fire District Board meeting at 10AM on October 18th at DiamondHead. We will carry that meeting live.
#2) Speak during public comment at the Florida State Delegation meeting on October 30th in Fort Myers. If you cannot speak on the 30th, you may want to simply e-mail Jenna your thoughts about this idea.

Here’s contact information for the entire Florida Delegation:
Representative Jenna Persons-Mulicka-District 78
Jenna.Persons@myfloridahouse.gov

Senator Kathleen Passidomo- District 28
Passidomo.Kathleen@flsenate.gov

Representative Mike Giallombardo – District 79
Mike.Giallombardo@myfloridahouse.gov

Senator Jonathan Martin- District 33
Martin.Jonathan@flsenate.gov

Representative Spencer Roach-District 76
Spencer.Roach@myfloridahouse.gov

Senator Ben Albritton- District 26
Albritton.Ben@flsenate.gov

Representative Adam Botana – District 80
Adam.Botana@myfloridahouse.gov

Representative Tiffany Esposito- District 77
Tiffany.Esposito@myfloridahouse.gov

25 COMMENTS

  1. 54 fire/rescue/paramedics- 3stations.
    54 divided by 3= 18 per station.
    18 divided by three 8 hr shifts = 6 personnel per station. (Not taking into account paid leave or vacation time).
    1rescue truck(2 people) 1fire apparatus 3-4 people. At least 12 miles of boxes in traffic during season. Run time to reach destination averages 10-15 minutes. Do people realize an entire structure can de destroyed in way less time? A choking victim has permanent brain damage in 3 minutes. A person can bleed out in way less time. If you want to close a station have them close the one closet to where you live.
    FYI- the better fire protection you have the lower your insurance rate is.

    I’ve lived it for years. Those that are “inconvenienced” the most are the ones always crying “what took you so long?”

  2. Todd, well, having 3 firestations in such a small area is really over kill. I agree, it needs to be evaluated and books audited and some of the protocal reviewed. I have never understood why they can have a call for homeless passing out on the sidewalk and the fire truck, ambulance and fire chief have to all show up in 3 vehicles. So that might be a practice that needs to be scaled back.

    I think the only reason we were allowed back on the island was because DeSantis shut the nonsense down once enough people complained. Home owners were not being protected, nor was our property protected from thieves that somehow managed to be allowed to roam the streets stealing. Dundee people had to take up arms to protect their own area. It was not being protected by anyone else. It seemed like everyone was on a power trip. We had a couple officers from Polk County that were working on the beach, stop by our house one evening to check on us and we were all discussing how poorly things were run. They said in their county these roaming thieves would have been arrested and on FMB the Deputies/Sheriff would just tell us that videos didn’t matter, they were not allowed to arrest them.

    “Protect its Fiefdom” is a perfect tag line for FMB good ole boy mentality that is prevalent on this island and you are right, the clocked stopped 9/28/22 and it is crawling at a snails pace. I do hope that this bill passes to start to bring things into check and correct the wrongs.
    Todd, many of the people that post on this platform are NOT owners on the beach and many, many don’t even live on the beach. They are the loudest voices and the masters of “copy and paste”. I have been attacked numerous times by these people so just take it negative comments with a grain of salt. They may sit in their little houses, banging on their key boards as they copy and paste all the info they can dig up to push their agenda, but they won’t be voting so they really don’t matter. Let’s hope we can start to move forward.

    • Agree – excellent comprehensive comments – we need smaller more efficient Govt- the Fire Dept on Island is a Boondoggle – end this nonsense , shrink all these Bureaucratic institutions that eat up more money , grow uncontrollably and produce LESS service . Our Fire Dept ran for the hills and were no place to be seen first 48-72 hours after IAN.
      An absolute travesty, what happened toward running to danger ? They hid with Carmines crew . Left people to defend and fight for themselves and each other .
      Thank You to our State Rep who sees this for what it is – uncontrolled Govt growth with ZERO cost / benefit or accountability

  3. We pay in taxes for FMB fire protection alone per year than my total property taxes for our former 5 bedroom, 3 bath, 3 car garage home near St Augustine that we sold in 2021!!! We totally support fire, police and emergency services, but come on with these high taxes! Make the smart financial decision FMB and do right for us citizens that live on the beach!

    • Apples and oranges.

      Nonetheless, a $3,872 FMBFD tax on a home with an assessed tax value of $1.5mil seems reasonable, especially given the entire property tax bill was nearly $18k.

      Why do you think merging the two fire districts will lower your taxes? Especially when there hasn’t been a study or evidence shown, other than Botana’s broad claim it will “reduce taxes.”

      • Holly I think this is the third attempt that someone has made to ask you is you are a home owner on Fort Myers Beach? You are always the loudest voice in the room so how about being loud about letting us know you are indeed a home owner?

  4. Millage rate per $1k assessed value:
    FMBFD $2.9851
    BSFD $1.9446

    Budget:
    FMBFD $28.9mil
    BSFD $44mil

    Workforce:
    FMBFD 54 persons
    BSFD 125 persons

    Ambulance service:
    FMBFD yes
    BSFD no

    Stations::Residents
    (pre-Ian)
    FMBFD one per 2,700
    BSFD one per 10,000

    BSFD would take all assets and liabilities of FMBFD, including the ~$4mil Topps property.

    Botana asserts no local referendum is required, despite state law (Ch 189 Special District Accountability Act).

    Botana asserts the merger “would make taxes cheaper” despite no study or other evidence to support that claim.

    This is all just very peculiar.

    • Holly, you answered all your own questions. The Mill rate is 35% less. At the current population, the budget is $4,943/person in the FMBFD vs. $775/person in BSFD. There is a whopping 1 fireman/woman for every 104 FMB residents. We need 54 fire service personnel on the island about as much as we need 54 fire personnel on the moon.

      With all the disastrous decisions setting us back compared to EVERYONE else (e.g. Sanibel, Bonita Springs), when a good decision is staring us in the face, we need to grab it!

  5. I believe that it is too early to make an informed decision on this as the financial and economic impacts are unknown. I agree with all of the previous comments, the fire department as we now have it is one of the best things going, lets not change things until all of the questions have been satisfactorily answered. What’s the hurry?

    • Of course, let’s not forget that it was the fire department that tried (and failed) to keep residents out of their homes post hurricane. The department’s management is its own little fiefdom which needs to be dissolved ASAP. Those stations will still be there with the same firefighters but needs to be run more efficiently. The pre-Ian size of government is no longer needed and must scaled to the need.

        • Correct, Dean. But the Bonita Springs fire department does have the experience AND I trust them to make a fair evaluation. More importantly, though, I’m a voter whose voice certainly isn’t going to be suppressed by your classic left wing big government deflection. Do you even live on the island, or are you a big government employee?

          • I am a conservative registered republican who served 23 years in the fire service…and live on the island. Will you answer the previous question?

        • Oh, realized I forgot to answer your question directly, Dean; my apologies. I actually have a bachelors degree in political science (government). While my emphasis was law, the curriculum still included extensive course work in city, county and state government administration so perhaps a little educational experience (from a capacity and budgetary perspective, anyway). Not really enough to do the job, but enough to know to stay out of the way of the impartial experts. Just wanted to say, thanks for asking!

  6. Absolutely impossible to determine value in this idea until we know benefits and reason for proposing. Who wins and who loses with this idea?

  7. It seams unreasonable to expect the town’s people of Fort Myers Beach to be able to make an informed decision regarding this significant proposal without any facts of the impact on our vulnerable Island now and for years to come. Is this someone’s idea to take advantage of Fort Myers Beach? How does an idea like this form and initiate action so suddenly without any discussion with the individuals it will affect? Who and why did someone think this was a good idea? I thought our government is supposed to represent their constituents interests and desires. I’m am unaware that anyone from Fort Myers Beach asked for this or even had knowledge that this was being discussed. Of the information that has been made available so far it does not seem to be in our best interest.

  8. The FMB fire department is the best thing on the beach. They are extremely approachable and helpful . They are part of the neighborhood. It is very reassuring to know the fire department and ambulance service is just down the street . Until we know how big and busy the island is going to be please don’t take away our one best asset .

    • They ARE good. The question is not how many fire departments we have, but how many independent taxing authorities. Don’t confuse fire DEPARTMENT with fire DISTRICT. That is the question to be decided and we all need more info.

    • The department isn’t going away. It just makes sense to consolidate with another larger district to bring the department into alignment with the current scale of the need.

      • We live on a 7 mile island and about 10 miles from end to end of fire stations? Is that normal to have that many? Pre Ian, there were days I heard 6-7 sirens per day. I would love to see a list of runs that they do. There is zero accountability and let’s never forget they were part of the group keeping us from our homes after the storm. Were they also part of the group breaking windows or doors at our homes to get into our homes to search supposedly for bodies? Now I am sure all the people who do not even own homes on the island will chime in and tell me how wrong I am. So pathetic.

        • Thank you for your comment, Jenny. I would add that nobody is proposing that the fire department be reduced, but a fair and impartial evaluation is needed. The department can always be scaled back up as needed.

          It took an act of the state legislature, AND an overriding order by the mayor, to allow us back on the island. I appreciate the work of the boots on the ground firefighters post hurricane. But, also please be reminded that is their job, they were paid fairly and handsomely for the overtime services. But, it is also no excuse to continue paying for services that may no longer be needed.

          The city is mired in a “protect its Fiefdom” at all costs mode. This banana republic mentality has all but frozen FMB in time. The clocked stopped somewhere around 9/28/2022 and has moved very little since. It’s time to climb out of the pit and start moving forward, and this bill is an important 1st step to bring some impartiality to the process.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here