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Fire district approves 20/21 budget and Stewardship resolution for its future

By MELISSA BILL - | Oct 7, 2020

news@breezenewspapers.com

The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District’s Board of Commissioners has approved its 2020/2021 fiscal budget and Resolution 20-09-04, a blue print/stewardship plan for the district’s future goals.

The Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 last Tuesday in favor of its budget, which is based on the newly adopted Simplified Fire Assessment. Commissioner Cia Sherman was absent for the meeting.

LAFCRD Finance Manger Anita Kressel reviewed the budget layout and noted important figures prior to the vote on the final budget.

“There are no changes on the budget from August except the outlook,” Kressel said.

Commissioners approved a final 2020/2021 budget of $46,100,080, which includes the general fund, $1.59 million impact fee fund, $24.59 million in non-ad valorem assessments, $4 million in construction loans, $890,000 in restricted, $12.37 million in reserves, $2.2 million in ambulance transport, and $17.26 million in balance carried forward.

The district’s operating expenditures total $39,487,664, consisting of about $13,341,071 on employee salaries, $7.614 million on employee benefits, $6.20 million on, $1.08 million on debt services, $835,767 on operating supplies, $4.21 million on debt service, $654,311 on professional services and $13.88 million on capital outlay.

For the $13.88 million capital outlay plan, the monies are allocated as: $2.4 million in capital vehicles, $425,977 in capital machinery and equipment, $1.59 in impact fees, $265,000 capital buildings and $9.19 million for construction in progress, with significant projects budgeted for the year to include: the Building of new Station 106, and rebuild of Station 102.

Lehigh Acres Fire District Board of Commissioners also voted 4-0 to approve Stewardship Resolution, which provides a general framework for upcoming district planning and activities. According to Commission Chair Cathy Kruse the resolution addresses district planning aspects in light of the implementation of the new assessment methodology.

Prior to its adoption, Attorney Richard Pringle thoroughly outlined the resolution.

“This resolution is meant to be procedural based and discuses and new beginning for the district and a blueprint for the future,” Pringle said.

Chair Kruse acknowledged that the Board of Commissioners “continues to learn every day in this process borne of necessity to serve with inadequate resources, and expresses gratitude to the community and property owners in the District for patience, the goodwill and good-natured trust in this transformation.”

Kruse continued to lay out the five elements of the plan.

“The blueprint or stewardship plan adopted by the commission “shares and reflects a common understanding of five essential stewardship points or steps that are appropriate to take the best advantage of an opportunity for a new beginning — now with adequate resources for the district and the Lehigh Acres community,” Kruse said.

“The five elements cover short and long term objectives, all to begin to be addressed promptly, and include: Act (keep working diligently with focus); Plan (for the future); Communicate (we are not an island); Introspection (we can do better; let’s learn about ourselves); and, Education (let’s make sure we inform and share what we are and what we are doing).”

According to the resolution, “the district as local governments go, is a small, special purpose local government which has been underfunded for several years — with a big service mission covering a very big unincorporated area. The expected changes will not materialize overnight. But the plan is intended to be a good natured, positive beginning that starts immediately with direction from this board.”

The plan includes a list of district stakeholders for regular outreach.

Lehigh Fire Chief Robert DiLallo’s staff report, he spoke briefly about station 106 and other possible fire station sites.

“Right now I’m working with Wright Construction to expedite the development order for station 106. The site-work for the station will be complete first, then a trailer will be set up on-sight, so we can begin to provide service to that area while the station is being built. We should have a temporary station in by February 1, 2021,” DiLallo said. “We are also looking at other possible station sites, and I’m presently working with Attorney Pringle on negotiations for a residential site on Leonard near the industrial park.”

For more information on the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District and the Simplified Fire Assessment visit https://www.lehighfd.com/

LAFCRD Board of Commissioners next meetings will be held Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. and Oct.27 at 5 p.m. Meetings are conducted inside the bay of Station 104, at 3102 16th St. SW.