Since White Springs has left us without a valid Fire Department and EMS because Rhett Bullard favors certain people over others, Hamilton County must take over White Spring’s Fire Department, even by contract alone.

What has transpired to Dunnellon, a City with a population of 2,154 needs to happen in part to White Springs.

The Marion County Commissioners voted for an agreement whereby the County would operate the existing Dunnellon Fire Station, and the Dunnellon residents as a result would pay an assessment fee.

Dunnellon’s council cited the extensive cost of operating the fire department which the Ocala Star Banner stated was about $450,000 including rescue and Advance Life support services.  Plus it was reported that it would cost Dunnellon about $500,000 to replace their fire truck.  It may be noted that Dunnellon had two full time paid fire officials..

If you will recall, although we purchased a pre-used fire engine, our White Springs’ Town Manager had the fire engine returned from the repair shop because it was considered too expensive.  Now we have a non-repaired fire engine from Windsor which has a good pumper and our old fire engine which does not have a viable pumper sitting presumably at the Fire Station.

Even though Hamilton County has provided White Springs with Funds for the Fire Department, we cannot be assured any of that money went to pay for equipment or repairs for the fire department.  We are not as large as Dunnellon and our costs would be far less than that municipality’s cost.  Yet in White Springs, the problem is not affordation, even with the County’s assistance, but the fact that former mayor and councilor Rhett Bullard wishes certain people to benefit in White Springs (i.e. the Emergency Fire Truck SUV given to Andrew Greene for his personal use) and the cost to White Springs Citizens is the fact that we no longer have fire fighters nor a fire department, which is required by Charter.

Per the Star Banner, Dunnellon’s councilor Dillon stated that even though the budget was balanced and there was money in reserves, many of it’s city’s employees have not received raises in years. Plus Dunnellon said they needed to hire additional police officers and the City needed to replace aging equipment.

The sad situation in White Springs is that new equipment for the benefit of out of town employees comes first to White Springs and we have a Chief of Police who is not an active police officer.  We have always questioned why does a Town with less than 800 people require four police officers? We would have been better off and have saved more money if we had only one police officer and paid for the Sheriff’s department to handle the day to day activities.

Apparently Belleview, where I once lived, is provided Marion County fire and emergency medical services as well.

It was proposed that Marion County Fire Rescue would staff an Advance Life Support fire engine at the Dunnellon Fire Station in the city limits and the County would lease the Dunnellon Fire Station from the City of Dunnellon for 99 years for $1.00 a year. Fire Equipment owned by the Dunnellon Fire Department would be transferred to Marion County Fire Rescue and repairs at the fire station will be made by the City

Dunnellon will make two payments on January 15, 2018 and on May 31, 2018 for services for the fiscal year 2017-2018.  The payments would total $600,161.  Part of the payment would come from a new fire assessment fee for residential and commercial properties in Dunnellon.  The residential cost would be about $195 a year and the cost would vary for commercial properties. Joe and I suggested a fire assessment of all properties in White Springs including vacant lots which went on deaf ears as usual.

For fiscal year 2018-2019 and beyond, Dunnellon officials said, the city and county would share costs that exceed the fire and emergency services revenue from ad valorem fees.

White Springs easily could have a viable fire department as they once did with Kevin Pittman again being hired as Fire Chief and an additional former firefighter as assistant fire chief, but not Andrew Greene who is incapable of fighting fires.

White Springs needs to have a viable fire engine and it cannot be imagined that the Windsor Fire Engine could not be repaired.  Surely White Springs should be able to pay for the repairs of that Fire Engine for all the money they have mishandled throughout the years by not providing adequate equipment for our fire department. White Springs will continually remain corrupt so that we have to pay for lawsuits with no cap in expenditures, while allowing our Fire Department no money to operate.

So a stand has to be made by the County.  Perhaps Hamilton County needs to take over the Fire Department, leasing the Fire House for $1.00 for 99 years like Dunnellon.

Then Hamilton County needs to charge a fire assessment of all lots in White Springs, residential and commercial, whether vacant or with buildings. This fire assessment would be used to provide repairs to equipment.

Then Hamilton County needs to eliminate the Chief and Assistant Fire Chief we have in White Springs and hire Kevin Pittman and an Assistant Fire Chief to remain in White Springs to handle fire calls and to provide the additional training to volunteer firefighters.

We need fire protection and EMS services in White Springs.  Since White Springs favors certain people and provides them with benefits they do not deserve, then the County needs to take over the situation, whether or not three out of five councilors agree.  The current Hamilton County unsigned Contract is excellent, we just need our firefighters and Chief Pittman back.

Karin for the blog

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