County fire.jpg

Firefighters put the first gallons of water on a home in this January 2018, afternoon fire in the Crystal Manor neighborhood north of Crystal River on West Acacia Drive. Citrus County commissioners on Tuesday gave support for several fire services expansion plans.

Residents will pay more for fire protection after a vote Tuesday by Citrus County commissioners.

The board voted 5-0 to increase the annual fee homeowners pay for fire services from $54 to $79.

Commissioners heard from residents who said they couldn’t afford the increase. However, they also said they consistently hear from the public that fire protection is a top priority.

Here’s the rundown:

• What happened: Commissioners increased the annual fire assessment from $54 to $79.

• Why? The increase will pay for hiring more career firefighters, work toward opening the Hernando station as a career station, prepare to build a new fire station on Cardinal Street in anticipation of need from the Suncoast Parkway, and adding advanced life support to fire trucks.

The ALS program is being funded by a 0.01 mill increase in the fire property tax — about $6 for most homeowners, officials said.

• Show of support: About 20 off-duty Citrus County firefighters wearing identical blue T-shirts attended Tuesday’s board meeting. None of them spoke during the public hearing.

• What they said:

• “The longest minutes are sitting there waiting for someone to arrive.” -- board Chairman Jeff Kinnard, an Inverness chiropractor, referring to the times his office has had to call for emergency help for a patient.

• “We want fire, fire, fire.” -- Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr., on public comment support for fire services during his town hall meetings.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

(2) comments

sitecer

Although I don't disagree with the need for increased fire department funding, the BOCC decision for this 78% increase when considered on their decision to charge a fee (tax!?!) on vacant land owners with water/sewer availability just amplifies my frustration with taxation policies in Citrus County.

ANNP

Agree! And, not for naught, but why isn’t the increased need that is tied to the expansion of the Suncoast Parkway something that is part of that budget? I think it is only going to snowball from here.

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