Cities told to offer input on fire plan

Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 at 11:13 p.m.
Alachua County's cities have 14 days to offer any suggestions on what they want included in a fire services master plan that will determine the type of protection they get in the future.
Three county commissioners and representatives from several municipalities met Tuesday to discuss fire-rescue issues and the scope of work that will be studied for the future plan.
"I want options for urban and rural services and what the different costs would be, and also what it would cost for high or lower levels of service," County Commissioner Mike Byerly said. "Let's know what we are paying for. We want the best level of service we could pay for."
The county and the cities are facing fire-rescue issues that are often interrelated.
Alachua County and Gainesville, for instance, have repeatedly launched efforts to merge. That has not yet happened and now they are starting to tussle over the future of a county fire station in an area along SW 20th Avenue that may be annexed into the city.
Meanwhile, fire services issues in the smaller cities typically focus on the cost of the service.
Some cities pay the county for service and are interested in the level of service they get for their money. The level of service includes response times in rural areas.
Some cities have their own departments and receive county money to help pay for service the city force provides.
Newberry City Commissioner Debbie Boyd said the city does not want those payments to end.
"Newberry is one of the small cities with its own fire department, and we feel very fortunate to have it," Boyd said. "We depend on revenue from the county to fund our department. We have a mutual agreement to respond to major structural fires in our area and we respond to unincorporated areas. Our concern is that since we depend on monetary assistance, we hope it will not be depleted through this process."
A consultant will do the countywide fire services master plan. A draft of the scope of work to be studied was presented Tuesday and the municipalities were asked to submit any comments or suggestions in 14 days.

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