Commissioners cease action on fire MSBU

FireThe St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to cease action on the proposed Fire Municipal Services Benefit Unit (MSBU)..

The Board was scheduled to vote on the proposed Fire MSBU at a public hearing on August 5, but due to significant public concern the Commission brought up the item at their regular meeting today. After brief public comment and discussion by the Board, the vote was unanimous to cease action on this item.

Because the Board called off the proposed Fire MSBU, the public meeting scheduled for Wednesday, July 23, at 7:00 pm in the County Auditorium has been canceled. Additionally, the public hearing scheduled for August 5 is no longer necessary.

With the proposed Fire MSBU no longer a funding option, the County will continue to fund fire operations for Fiscal Year 2009 through ad valorem property taxes. This provides for basic fire operations, but will not fund capital improvements or additional fire stations.

Following the passage of Amendment 1, which removed an estimated $35 million from the Fire Department’s budget over the next five years, the Board of County Commissioners directed County Administration to look at alternative ways to fund fire services. Staff responded and presented a Fire MSBU as a viable option because it would provide a stable funding source, which could be utilized to bond fire stations and other related capital projects.

Now that the County Commission has ceased action on the proposed Fire MSBU, County Administration has again been directed to research and explore alternative funding options, as the County still has a commitment to provide adequate fire services to all its citizens. Administration hopes to bring some options to the Board for consideration in advance of the Fiscal Year 2010 budget process. This new timeframe more adequately allows staff to work with all segments of the community and hopefully present a funding option to the Board that includes strong public support.

For additional information, please contact Public Affairs Specialist Karen Pan at (904) 209-0549.

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