Yesterday, in a close vote 50.66% to 49.34%, Pine Island Matlacha Fire Control District (MPIFCD) voters let their voices be heard by approving the millage increase requested by the District.
The District requested an increase in the maximum ad valorem tax millage rate (property tax) within the district from $3 per $1000 to $3.75 per $1000 costing the homeowner of a $175,000 home $131.75 more per year. The approved increase will add an estimated $964,000 to the district's annual budget.
“The money will go to new, updated equipment, new fire engines, and a new station in Matlacha,” acting Fire Chief Benjamin Mickuleit said.
“We have very outdated extraction tools, Mickuleit said. “The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations state that extraction tools should be replaced every 10 years. We have extraction tools dating back to 1996. New equipment offers firefighters lighter weight equipment with more cutting power. Also, it only takes one firefighter to operate the new equipment. What we have now requires up to three firefighters.”
Fire engines are also well past their expiration date. “We keep the engines looking like new but all of our engines have more years and time than they should have and right now we have one engine out of service because of maintenance,” Mickuleit said. “The cost of a new engine is about $250,000, and that doesn't include the equipment.”
Response times have also been a concern. The MPIFCD extends from the south end of Pine Island to the north end and eastward through Matlacha, Matlacha Isles, Cape Royal, and into the Saddle Wood area. “Because of the nearly double response time to these areas a station close to these areas would bring response times down and save lives,” Mickuleit said.
“This increase will help us deliver what the District deserves,” Mickuleit said. “Better equipment means better service and a safer community.”
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