SPRING HILL — Spring Hill Fire Rescue commissioners agreed on Wednesday to fill the seat on the fire board left vacant by a commissioner's sudden resignation last week.
After debating the issue at some length, with John Pasquale absent, Commissioners Amy Brosnan, Robert Giammarco and Leo Jacobs decided to move to fill Gene Panozzo's seat, which expires in November. They did not wish to remain a four-member commission and risk a series of stalemate votes.
"We need to be able to move forward," Giammarco said.
Chairwoman Brosnan originally proposed that former fire commission candidate Ben Edwards be allowed to fill the seat. Edwards, a fire inspector for Hillsborough County, finished fourth in the 2008 fire board elections.
Commissioners agreed instead to advertise for candidates interested in the volunteer job. Hopefuls should send a letter of interest, plus a list of qualifications, to the board by Jan. 28.
Commissioners will have a special meeting at 9 a.m. Feb. 3 to interview prospective candidates and choose a finalist.
Two of the five seats on the commission are up for election in November.
In other fire board action, commissioners voted to allow Fire Chief Mike Rampino to renegotiate lease terms with leaders of Antioch Fellowship Baptist Church for land on which the board wants to build a fifth fire station.
According to Rampino, the church's development committee rescinded its original offer to lease the land for $1 per year when it realized a site drawing needed to complete the deal would cost the church $6,000.
The new offer ups the price to $500 per year for use of the 1-acre parcel, a fee that commissioners felt was unfair in that it strayed too far from the original offer.
"It seems like the church is using us," Giammarco said. "I'm disgusted with it."
The proposed two-bay fire station would be built on land off Santoro Street near Spring Hill Drive in an area long considered under-protected by district officials.
Rampino said he felt confident an amicable agreement could be reached.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 848-1435.