Is Lehigh Acres Fire Board Incompetent or Just Stupid?
Editorial by Robert Anderson Publisher of the Lehigh Acres Gazette
The Lehigh Acres Fireboard has been talking about the assessment fee for over two years. But now these elected officials cannot make up their minds how they want to tax you the taxpayer. Now this nowhere board has spent over $33,000 of taxpayer money on consultants and attorneys and has another $42,000 waiting in the wings ready to spend.
Currently the board does not understand two simple words fair and equitable:
The dictionary says that Fair means - free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice
And Equitable means – 1. Characterized by equity or fairness; just and right; fair; reasonable: equitable treatment of all citizens.
2. Law. a. pertaining to or valid in equity
b. pertaining to the system of equity, as distinguished from the common law.
The Fire Commissioners at the last meeting agreed to move forward with a plan that will charge a proposed fire assessment fee to residential and commercial properties per square foot. Vacant lots will be charged per acre.
But the current plan causes an little issue, up to a 120% increase in fire tax in homes 1500 square feet or smaller and a decrease in fire tax for home over 3000 square so the working poor gets to subsidize the working middle-class and the rich.
“I believe that it should be equal,” said Joan Greissing, a Lehigh Acres resident, who owns a home and vacant lots.
“Every time you come to a different idea, there’s another group of people that are affected either negative or positive. But I think if we do our due diligence and we educate people, I think we have a pretty good chance,” Chief John Wayne said.
But to date there has been no outreach to the residents of Lehigh Acres by Chief Wayne or any of the Fire Commissioners, why????
Currently the consultants and attorneys will not allow the Fire Commissioners to raise the assessment any higher than $21.00 per acre for vacant land why??? Doesn’t anyone remember the fires in 2006 and 2008; the fire department spent millions and had to call for extra help all over the state of Florida.
Every time we had vacant property fire the fire department sends out everything they have and leaves other sections of Lehigh Acres with no coverage. Isn’t there a department called the Division of Forestry in the State of Florida?
On April 29th, the fire board will discuss what those specific rates will be, and will likely vote on the plan itself. Commissioner Linda Carter says she plans to vote against the plan, preferring a flat rate for the assessment fee.
Residents will vote on the fee in November 4th. If the assessment fails, Chief Wayne has said publicly we the department will face layoffs, closing stations and losing the ambulance service.
I call this a threat to get the taxpayers to vote for this assessment. I challenge fireboard to show us the taxpayers the real facts and figures and the truth about this whole thing since they all cannot agree.