Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District chief resigns
Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District Chief Salvatore D'Angelo announced Tuesday night he was leaving the department for a new job.
D'Angelo said after a district commission meeting he accepted a position as the executive director of the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District. Aug. 4 is his last day at Pinellas Suncoast, which provides fire and emergency medical services for Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and the unincorporated Oakhurst area.
"You are blessed with some wonderful first responders," he said, addressing the Board of Commissioners, "and it has truly been an honor to serve them and you and this community."
D'Angelo said his decision to leave was drive by his completion in August of his doctorate in public administration from Florida Atlantic University.
"When I received my Ph.D., there were some opportunities that presented themselves," he said. "It was right for me professionally."
Before taking over the department in October 2014, D'Angelo worked as deputy chief of operations at the North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District. Soon after he left, the district merged with the Big Corkscrew Island Fire Control and Rescue District to become the department D'Angelo is going to next.
Commission Chairman Joe Bruni said the board will post the job publicly via the Florida Association of Special Districts and the Pinellas County Fire Chiefs' Association. Assistant Chief John Mortellite will serve as interim chief.
Less than a year after he started as chief, D'Angelo made an impression by threatening to sue Pinellas County for $5.2 million of emergency medical services funding he believes is owed to the district. He followed through on that threat last May.
The lawsuit, which contributed to the roughly $230,000 the district spent on lawyers last year, is close to a resolution. Commissioners tentatively scheduled on Tuesday a special meeting in July to discuss a proposed settlement formed through a pre-court intergovernmental resolution process.
Most notably during his tenure, D'Angelo, led the charge in adding a referendum to the November 2016 ballot that would allow the district to start collecting a property tax. The district is currently funded mainly by a flat fee plus fees for new construction, a model D'Angelo said wasn't sustainable for the district's needs.
The referendum passed with about 52 percent of the vote. However, the approval is in limbo after district resident and Indian Rocks Beach Commissioner Ed Hoofnagle filed a lawsuit calling the ballot language "ambiguous, deceptive and misleading."