Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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Fire-EMS district to act on former property

KEY LARGO -- The Key Largo Fire-EMS District was expected Monday to finalize a lease agreement for property owned by its former fire department contractor.

Results of the Feb. 24 meeting were not available at press time.

The Key Largo Volunteer Fire-Rescue Department lost its contract with the district last spring due primarily to the district's concerns over department management. A new fire department was formed by the Key Largo Ambulance Corps made mostly of the same firefighters but with different leadership. The Ambulance Corps also contracts with the district to provide emergency medical services.

The old fire department, however, still owns assets, including donations collected at boot drives, the property upon which Fire Station 24 sits and a small building next to the station. The former department also makes car and insurance payments on a sport utility vehicle, which served as the ex-fire chief's vehicle.

The former department and the district have been agreeing to short-term leases of the station property until a permanent deal can be inked.

A $1,900 monthly lease brokered between the former department and district board member Jennifer Miller fell through.

The attorneys for the district questioned the justification for the monthly amount.

The former department's liabilities include electricity for a building that sits next to the fire station, insurance and payments on a fire chief's vehicle.

District board member Bob Thomas said he wants the district to forego the lease and purchase the property, instead.

"If we can end the deal for $15,000, that would be great," he said.

Thomas was also expected to make a presentation regarding securing money for more fire hydrants in Key Largo. The county recently agreed to give the district a portion of its sales tax income.

The district is also in the process of working out a 401K program for its fire and ambulance crews. They are contemplating matching a portion of each member's contribution.

jgore@keysnews.com

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