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.