Hernando firefighters union cuts ties to fundraising group

BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County firefighters union is cutting ties with a controversial telemarketing group.

The Hernando County Professional Firefighters Local 3760 voted unanimously this week to discontinue the services of Bay Area Council Inc., according to a statement from the union released Friday.

"Any future fundraising will be conducted in-house," union president Bobby Rae said in the statement.

Bay Area Council solicits money on behalf of charities run by firefighters in Pasco, Hernando and other counties.

The company came under scrutiny in December when a Hudson resident complained to the Spring Hill Fire Rescue Commission that his mother, a resident of a Spring Hill assisted living facility, received an invoice from the Spring Hill Association of Firefighters & Paramedics that resembled a bill.

That group is separate from Hernando County Professional Firefighters Local 3760, which represents firefighters in other parts of Hernando.

Bay Area Council, and the unions that use the company, have been criticized for sending only about 16 percent of the proceeds from donations to charitable causes while keeping the bulk of the money for administrative costs.

The Hernando union was drawn to Bay Area Council as an easy way to raise money for charity, but officials grew concerned when they found out how little was actually going to charity, said John Athanason, a spokesman for the union.

The company raised about $4,500 for Hernando Local 3760 last year, Athanason said.

The union raised another $25,000 for charitable causes through its own efforts, he said. Much of those donations benefited the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he said.

The union doesn't need the company, Athanason said.

"They do a wonderful job on their own for their community."

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.

Hernando firefighters union cuts ties to fundraising group 02/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 19, 2010 9:29pm]

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