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HIGH SPRINGS – After discussing the High Springs fire department budget, the High Springs City Commission set the preliminary fire assessment fee at $99 in a 3-2 vote during a July 31 special meeting.

On Aug. 23, a public hearing will be held to allow comments from the residents regarding the decision. The City still has the option to return the fee to the current year rate of $73.

The fire department 2012-2013fiscal year budget reflects shortfalls, which the higher assessment fee will help reduce. But even accounting for the increased fee, the department will still be in a deficit situation, requiring transfers from the City’s general fund to cover all the costs.

“I don’t know if we truly appreciate how much we are going to have to come up with in the next budget to pay for stuff,” Commissioner Scott Jamison said. “I want to have the option to do what needs to be done.”

Earlier, Commissioner Sue Weller attempted to raise the fee to $112, but the motion died in a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Dean Davis, Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas and Commissioner Linda Gestrin voting against it and Weller and Commissioner Jamison in favor.

“I’m not really interested in raising taxes or fees,” Gestrin said.

Gestrin is in favor of rolling the fire department budget over from this year to next fiscal year, as well as keeping all fees the same.

For the proposed 2012-2013 budget, the fire department budget weighs in at a proposed $1.321 million, up from last year’s $1.286 million.  With the proposed fire assessment fee set at $99, the City can expect to see approximately $60,000 in revenues from that fee alone.

According to Fire Chief Bruce Gillingham, the budget increased because of several required upgrades. One request includes $20,000 to buy new gear for current staff and incoming volunteer firemen.

“Can we exist within our operating realms and get by? Of course we can, we will make do,” Gillingham said. “But there’s some areas that if we want to keep expanding, like the volunteer program, that we’re going to have to commit a little money to this year.”

Gillingham hopes to move forward with the volunteer program and has already added nine new volunteer staff members.

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Email awilliamson@alachuatoday.com

HIGH SPRINGS – After discussing the High Springs fire department budget, the High Springs City Commission set the preliminary fire assessment fee at $99 in a 3-2 vote during a July 31 special meeting.

On Aug. 23, a public hearing will be held to allow comments from the residents regarding the decision. The City still has the option to return the fee to the current year rate of $73.

The fire department 2012-2013fiscal year budget reflects shortfalls, which the higher assessment fee will help reduce. But even accounting for the increased fee, the department will still be in a deficit situation, requiring transfers from the City’s general fund to cover all the costs.

“I don’t know if we truly appreciate how much we are going to have to come up with in the next budget to pay for stuff,” Commissioner Scott Jamison said. “I want to have the option to do what needs to be done.”

Earlier, Commissioner Sue Weller attempted to raise the fee to $112, but the motion died in a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Dean Davis, Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas and Commissioner Linda Gestrin voting against it and Weller and Commissioner Jamison in favor.

“I’m not really interested in raising taxes or fees,” Gestrin said.

Gestrin is in favor of rolling the fire department budget over from this year to next fiscal year, as well as keeping all fees the same.

For the proposed 2012-2013 budget, the fire department budget weighs in at a proposed $1.321 million, up from last year’s $1.286 million.  With the proposed fire assessment fee set at $99, the City can expect to see approximately $60,000 in revenues from that fee alone.

According to Fire Chief Bruce Gillingham, the budget increased because of several required upgrades. One request includes $20,000 to buy new gear for current staff and incoming volunteer firemen.

“Can we exist within our operating realms and get by? Of course we can, we will make do,” Gillingham said. “But there’s some areas that if we want to keep expanding, like the volunteer program, that we’re going to have to commit a little money to this year.”

Gillingham hopes to move forward with the volunteer program and has already added nine new volunteer staff members.

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