Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Proposed tax cap for Spring Hill fire district rankles board

SPRING HILL — Residents and backers of Spring Hill Fire Rescue were happy when their state representative agreed to introduce the necessary legislation to make the fire district independent.

But Rep. Robert Schenck's decision to seek a tax rate cap for the district that is lower than what they expected has fire board members angry and concerned about the department's fiscal future.

At Wednesday night's meeting, several residents demanded an explanation for why Schenck, R-Spring Hill, wants to lower the 2.75-mill cap that the board wants to 2.5 mills when he introduces the legislation this spring.

Board members said that Schenck never told them he intended to lower the millage cap when the county's state delegation met in late December in Brooksville.

Residents accused Schenck of going against the wishes of voters who approved a maximum ad valorem tax rate of 2.75 when they approved the independence referendum in November. The current tax rate is 2.286 mills.

"This isn't what the people voted for," Spring Hill resident Ken Fagan told fire commissioners. He added that residents would take the brunt of any cutbacks in the fire services because of budget shortfalls caused by the lower tax rate.

Schenck said Thursday that the uproar at the meeting surprised him. He said he never heard from any of the board members prior to delegation meeting.

"I understood that we had a consensus on that figure," said Schenck.

He said that with state budget cuts looming, a lower tax rate for the Spring Hill fire district would be in everyone's best interest.

Limiting the cap to 2.5 mills, however, would cause problems for the fire department if tax revenues fall short, commissioners said. "I see problems coming down the road in 2010, 2011 if we're limited to 2.5," said Commissioner Rob Giammarco.

District Chief Mike Rampino said that although it would be tough, he would work with less revenue if necessary. "They've given us a lower number and we're going to go with that lower number," Rampino said.

Schenck said he intends to meet with Spring Hill fire commissioners soon to "see if we can come to some understanding."

Once completed, Schenck intends to introduce the bill to lawmakers during the regular legislative session in March. If it is granted, the fire district would still be under state oversight.

In related news, fire commissioners unanimously approved a four-year contract for Rampino that will continue to pay him $88,800 a year, with a provision for an annual raise of up to 3 percent. But Rampino said that if tight finances mean firefighters do not get a raise, he will forgo his, too.

Board Chairman Leo Jacobs, who led the effort in December to make Rampino the permanent chief, said Rampino deserved the job.

"He's been tested," Jacobs said. "We need to assure him that we respect what he's done."

Rampino, 45, has led the 118-employee district since early 2008, when Chief J.J. Morrison stepped down, and is the first chief since voters gave the district its independence from county government in the referendum.

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

Proposed tax cap for Spring Hill fire district rankles board 01/15/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 15, 2009 9:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”