SPRING HILL — In order to make certain that things go smoothly, members of the Spring Hill Fire Rescue Commission have decided to back a lower tax rate supported by state Rep. Robert Schenck when he introduces legislation this spring to make the district independent.
According to commission Chairman Leo Jacobs, the decision to support a maximum millage rate of 2.5 rather than the board's original proposal of 2.75 mills came down to a matter of not wanting to ruffle any feathers.
"The last thing we want to do is jeopardize what 26,000 people voted for," Jacobs said. "We want to do everything possible to make sure that the Legislature will support our independence.
At last week's board meeting, several residents and board members wanted to know why Schenck had decided to lower the cap at a state delegation meeting in late December and take away any budgetary cushion that might be needed later.
In a news release Friday, Schenck said he told Jacobs, district Fire Chief Mike Rampino and firefighters union president Troy Hagar this week that he felt the lower rate was in the best interest of taxpayers.
"Tax increases have no place in the current economy," Schenck said in the news release.
Board member Rob Giammarco said that the original 2.75 millage passed by the board was intended to provide some breathing room in case the department found itself financially strapped. Spring Hill taxpayers currently pay a millage rate of 2.286. One mill is equivalent to $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt real property.
Giammarco, who has often been critical of the department's spending, said he supports having the lower millage rate in the upcoming legislation, and was assured by Rampino that the department could live within its means.
"It's good news for the taxpayers," Giammarco said.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.