Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Legal funds unresolved for new department

KEY LARGO -- The Key Largo Fire-EMS District is contemplating whether to help pay for the new fire department's legal counsel.

Citing management issues, the district ended its relationship with the Key Largo Volunteer Fire-Rescue Department in May and asked the Key Largo Ambulance Corps to form a new fire department. The new department is led by Ambulance Corps Chief Don Bock.

The district taxes residents and uses the funds to pay for fire, ambulance and emergency services.

The legal counsel issue has arisen in the midst of budget workshops that lead up to the budget hearings in September.

The former department relied mostly on the services of Tavernier attorney Andy Tobin, an honorary member of the department who did not charge a fee. In some cases, the old department chose to retain additional attorneys, which it paid for through fundraising and taxpayer dollars.

Jack Bridges, who serves as legal counsel for the Ambulan-ce Corps, has also advised the newly-formed Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department. The Ambulance Corps has also asked the district to consider paying Bridges about $5,000 for the time he logged assisting in the transition.

At the latest district meeting, board members advised the new department to raise funds to pay for some of the day-to-day needs like legal counsel. A decision on whether and how much the district is willing to chip in has yet to be made.

In other business, the district has decided to make increasing the number of fire hydrants in Key Largo one of its main goals in trying to secure county sales tax funds.

jgore@keysnews.com

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