60.1 F
The Villages
Saturday, February 24, 2024

New fire board in The Villages will hold organizational meeting this week

The newly formed board of The Villages Public Safety Department (VPSD) Dependent District will hold its first meeting at 10 a.m. Friday at the Savannah Recreation Center.

On the agenda are resolutions to appoint Villages District Manager Kenneth Blocker as the dependent district’s manager, secretary, treasurer and registered agent; Carrie Duckett as assistant secretary; Stone & Gerken as district counsel; and PFM as financial advisor.

Board members also will consider an agreement with Village Center Community Development District, an ordinance establishing the dependent district, an advertisement of its policies and procedures and the board’s meeting schedule.

Members appointed last month by the Sumter County Board of Commissioners include Stephen Bogle, Chris Christopoulos, Kathleen Gowin, John Dean and Maryanne Scott. They must be elected over the next few years to continue serving on the board.

The dependent district, which covers only the Sumter County portion of The Villages, provides some independence from county control for the VPSD. The district can levy taxes, borrow money and draft its own budget. The annual budget is subject to county approval.

It will begin operating next Oct. 1.

Last year, voters rejected a referendum that would have established an independent district for the VPSD, which would have eliminated county oversight. The dependent district was established by county ordinance.

The VPSD Dependent District follows a model of the North Sumter County Utility Dependent District, established in 2012.

A financial crisis facing both county fire departments was the impetus to form the VPSD Dependent District.

Sumter County Fire and Rescue provides fire and ambulance service to cities and rural areas while VPSD provides those services in The Villages.

Both departments faced severe budget cuts after commissioners in August rejected proposed annual fire assessment increases.

The substantial fire fee hikes were the result of a study that recommended assessing non-residential property on square footage, which business owners complained would raise their annual fees to $40,000 or more.

After rejecting the fee hikes, commissioners were limited to a one-cent increase, raising the fees to $125 per parcel.

Without the fee hikes, Sumter County Fire Chief Rob Hanson said he would need to lay off 30 firefighters to erase a $12-million revenue hole in his $24.2-million budget while VPSD Fire Chief Brian Twiss said he would lose 57 new positions slated in his $34.5-million budget for 2023-24.

Layoffs were avoided due to cost-cutting measures and after firefighters agreed to forego a cost-of-living increase.

We should not vote for anyone spreading Russian propaganda

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Poinciana woman contends we should not vote for anyone for re-election that has knowingly spread Russian propaganda in the halls of our government.

Please reconsider closing down Texas Hold’ em poker games

A Village of Marsh Bend resident is hoping officials in The Villages will reconsider its decision to shut down Texas Hold’em games.

Ralph is embarrassing himself in rants about Trump

A Village of Piedmont resident fears that frequent letter writer Ralph Bennett is embarrassing himself in his rants about former President Trump.

Shocked to see bumper sticker at Lake Sumter Landing

A Haciendas of Mission Hills resident writes that he was shocked to see a bumper sticker at Lake Sumter Landing.

Don’t take poker away from residents who need it most

A Village of Calumet Grove resident, in a Letter to the Editor, is pleading with officials in The Villages to restore the poker games that mean so much to residents.