Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Chief says fee increase is needed to maintain volunteer fire service in Hernando Beach

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department Chief David Freda breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday when the Hernando County Commission passed a resolution that will bring about 62 percent more revenue to his department next year.

The raise comes at a time when Freda's operational budget is the tightest it's been in the nearly nine years since he joined the department. As a result, department needs have gone neglected. A 1987 GMC tanker truck that flooded during no-name storm of March 1993 has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer serviceable. Essential firefighting equipment — masks, air tanks and other items — also is in dire need of replacement, Freda said.

Freda, who commands the 25-member volunteer squad that provides first-responder fire service to about 1,500 homes and 55 businesses in Hernando Beach, Forest Glenn and Aripeka, said he told county Commissioner Wayne Dukes that things had gotten to the point where he was concerned about the safety of his staff.

"(Dukes) was a firefighter, so he knows that the things we need aren't luxuries," Freda said.

The fee increase is the first since 2006 and will tack on $41.29 to the $66.07 that homeowners currently contribute annually, meaning the new fee will total $107.36. Assessments on vacant lots will increase from $44 to $71.57. Commercial assessments will rise from the current $109.82 to $169.98.

Most of the Hernando Beach residents who spoke at the commission meeting said they had no problem with the increase.

"It's a small price to pay for what we get in return," said Diane Overbeek, president of the Hernando Beach South Property Owners Association.

Others disagreed, saying the increase was too large during a time when county services are being slashed for budgetary reasons.

Freda said that while the department is permitted to request a fee increase every four years, it didn't do so in 2010 because the previous fire chief felt it wouldn't be a popular move during the weak economy. Since then, he said, the department has been stretched to make ends meet because of increased operating costs.

Of the department's $152,000 annual budget, Freda said about $70,000 goes to mandatory operating costs such as insurance, electricity and vehicle maintenance, including $21,000 that is paid to the county. None of the staff receives a salary.

Freda said the fee increase will go mostly toward the purchase of a fire truck and new gear for firefighters. In addition, he hopes enough will be left over to enable the department to step up firefighter training and certification.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1435.

Chief says fee increase is needed to maintain volunteer fire service in Hernando Beach 07/11/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 11, 2013 8:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Woman killed in overnight Temple Terrace apartment fire, city says

    Fire

    TEMPLE TERRACE — A woman died early Sunday as a result of a fire at an apartment complex, city officials said.

  2. Video: Indianapolis 500 drivers in fiery crash somehow walk away uninjured

    Auto racing

    Scott Dixon and Jay Howard avoided injury in a spectacular crash - or what Dixon labeled "a wild ride" afterward - during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

  3. Homeland security chief defends Kushner's alleged proposal for 'back channel' to the Russians as 'a good thing"

    National

    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the lone administration official to speak out publicly about reports that Jared Kushner sought a back channel to communicate with the Russian government, defended the move, saying it was a "good thing" for the U.S. government.

    Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, listens during a meeting with small business leaders at the White House on Jan. 30. [Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford]
  4. After hard charging on health care in 2016, Marco Rubio is slow, careful

    Blogs

    As a presidential candidate, Marco Rubio pitched an Obamacare replacement and tore into Donald Trump for not having one. "What is your plan? What is your plan on health care? You don't have a plan," the Florida senator aggressively challenged in a February 2016 debate.

  5. Report: Florida counties part of liver disease cluster

    Research

    STUART — Four counties along Florida's Treasure Coast make up a cluster with high rates of both deaths from liver disease and algae blooms.