LARGO -- The oversight committee, made up of those from the cities that the Pinellas Suncoast Fire & Rescue departments serves, went on an exploratory mission at its meeting July 20.
Present at the meeting at the county's EMS admin building were Derrel O'Neal and Dan Graves, fire chiefs of Madeira Beach and Seminole, respectively.
The committee members, made up of representatives from Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Belleair Shore, Belleair Beach and the unincorpated area on the mainland, under county jurisdiction, concentrated on finding out how the North Redington area could receive EMS service.
These cities served by PSF&R maintain that the fire district is out of its bounds by serving North Redington. Mayor Bill Ockunzzi of Indian Rocks Beach points out that the service costs taxpayers in the official district $31,000 a year.
"Why should our taxpayers, who pay for all their services, subsidize and pay for service outside the district?" Ockunzzi said.
This is the nub of the complaint that the four cities have with PSF&R.
O'Neal and Graves indicated that the Redington area could easily be covered in the absence of PSF&R.
In the meantime, the oversight committee has hired a consultant to review the operations of PSF&R. The findings will be forwarded to the Florida Legislature which has control over the fire district.
Unlike the usual process, the district does not receive ad valorem tax funds. Instead, it has operated on a fee for services basis from residents in the four cities and the mainland area.
When the fire district's finances got tight in recent years, its commission sought to increase the fee. That controversy has gone on for about a year and a half without resolution.
The commiteee has allocated $50,000 for the consultant with the county paying 55 percent, and the remainder apportioned among the cities on a population basis.
Roughly, the county will pay $27,000, Indian Rocks Beach will pay $14,000, Indian Shores $6,000, Belleair Beach $3,000 and Belleair Shore $200.
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