KEY LARGO -- The Key Largo Fire-EMS District board has set a tentative 2014-15 property tax rate at $100 per $100,000 of assessed value, the maximum allowed without a referendum.
The move last week is standard procedure for the district, which will likely lower the rate as it works it way through the budget season. The tax rate is $79.56 per $100,000 for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Last week, the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department submitted its annual budget to the district. The district taxes residents and uses the funds to contract for fire-rescue and ambulance services.
The Key Largo Ambulance Corps has already submitted its first proposal.
The fire department's budget compared to last year is nearly identical in operating expenses. Projections call for an operating budget of just over $1.02 million, while this year the department budget was just under $1.01 million.
The department is set to save about $8,500 in fuel costs compared to this year and doesn't plan on any vehicle purchases.
The department, though, is asking for $4,500 to replace kitchen appliances in Station 24. It is also asking for another $7,300 for maintenance of a compressor system and a new radio system.
Salaries and wages could increase by $18,000 to cover sick days and pay for raises for three full-time firefighters.
Historically, budget meetings have been dicey as the fire department and ambulance corp each want their share of revenues from the district.
But that is unlikely to occur at the upcoming meetings as Ambulance Chief Don Bock also serves as the fire department's chief.
The next district budget meeting is set for Aug. 11. Public hearings are scheduled for Sept. 8 and Sept. 22.
In other action, the district was expected to meet Monday, July 28, to vote on an $86,000 contract with J.A. Larocco for the installation of eight fire hydrants.