September 29, 2023
Craig Estep

On the eve of essential hearth division adjustments up for consideration by Sumter County commissioners, County Chairman Craig Estep has been hospitalized and can miss Tuesday night time’s assembly.

Commissioner Roberta Ulrich doubtless will lead the assembly as vice chairwoman, however it’s not clear whether or not commissioners will vote on all of the adjustments or desk them till Estep returns. 

County Administrator Bradley Arnold wrote in an electronic mail that the agenda hasn’t been modified.

“There isn’t a motion by the BOCC (Board of County Commissioners) till the assembly and I’ve not pulled any objects from the agenda,” he wrote.

Three main hearth division actions on the agenda embody:

  • Rising the annual hearth evaluation payment by $1 to $125 per parcel, the utmost allowed beneath a present cap.
  • Setting annual enterprise inspection, hazardous supplies incident response and emergency medical companies charges for each county hearth departments.
  • Dialogue about making a dependent hearth district for The Villages, which might enable The Villages Public Security Division (VPSD) extra management over its funds whereas remaining beneath final authority of Sumter County.

The modest hearth payment hike comes after commissioners final month rejected a considerable improve in hearth evaluation charges that may have taxed non-residential property on sq. footage. Enterprise house owners complained at a public listening to that their charges might attain $40,000 or extra.

Service charges for the price of annual enterprise inspections and for hazardous supplies responses would offer some income to cut back the lack of the proposed hearth payment will increase and assist keep away from firefighter layoffs.

The dependent hearth district, which might take impact in October 2024, can be ruled by a five-member board and will set its personal tax levy. Board members can be appointed after which elected to subsequent phrases.

Final fall, voters rejected creation of an unbiased district that may not have been beneath county authority. Commissioners can create a dependent district with no referendum.

The VPSD supplies hearth and emergency medical companies in The Villages whereas the Sumter County Fireplace Division gives these companies in the remainder of the county, together with Wildwood, smaller cities and rural areas.

Sumter County commissioners will appoint the district’s board members, however Villages District Supervisor Kenneth Blocker submitted a slate of most popular candidates in a current electronic mail to Arnold.

They embody Dr. Mary Ann Scott, Dr. Kathleen Gowin, Fred Briggs, John Dean and John Patella.