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Spring Hill chief's proposed base assessment fire fee shot down

SPRING HILL — In a show of newly acquired muscle by two recently elected board members, Spring Hill Fire Rescue Chief Mike Rampino learned this week that his hope to raise additional revenue for the cash-strapped district is not going to fly.

By a 4-0 vote Monday, the commission rejected Rampino's proposal to use staff time to explore a base assessment on about 2,600 Spring Hill property owners who pay nothing to the district because their property is exempt from taxes. A base rate would boost revenue and assure that everyone who receives fire and rescue services would pay at least some amount.

However, Rampino was immediately rebuked by newly sworn-in Commissioner Sherry Adler, who ran on an antitax platform.

"We can make cuts where we need to," Adler said sternly. "I am absolutely against any increases for anybody in Spring Hill."

Adler's sentiments were echoed by new Commissioner Ken Fagan, another fiscal conservative, who warned that a tax increase would be unfair to residents living on fixed or limited incomes.

"For people who are having a hard time, something like this would make it even harder," said Fagan, who suggested the district learn to live within its means.

For the past two years, the fire-rescue district has struggled because of declining property values.

Rampino said he is worried that if the financial picture doesn't improve, he may be forced to lay off employees or reduce services.

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

Spring Hill chief's proposed base assessment fire fee shot down 11/23/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 6:45pm]
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