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The system is broken

May 9, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Last week, Fort Myers Beach Fire District Commissioners were forced to make a tragic decision .... cut salaries up to 35 percent or go out of business .... literally.

Due to the economy, they have been borrowing from reserves and will run out of money in two years. Since salaries make up 90 percent of the budget, the Commissioners had no choice but to drastically cut salaries. Firemen testified that they would lose their homes and be forced into bankruptcy if the plan were adopted. Kudos to the Commissioners who made the only choice they could; keep the District solvent by slashing salaries and saving almost $1 million/year.

Recently the Town began to move forward on a $15 million plan approved by referendum to rebuild a broken water system. Later this year, the Library District will open a $9 million Community Center paid for with taxpayer dollars without a referendum that more than doubled the size of the existing library.

A reliable water system that provides safe, clean potable drinking water and the most important element of fire suppression. A Fire Department that provides protection from life threatening fires and emergency paramedic service.

A preeminent Community Center with 25 percent of it's space dedicated to a meeting room w/kitchen, cafe, bookstore, lounge area for dining/Wi-Fi use and exhibits.

If funds were limited [and they are] and taxpayers were asked to rank their priorities, what do you think would be cut? Because there is one General Service Area and two Special Taxing Districts, each project has to be considered independent of the others and taxpayers cannot make the choice of which is most important. Each Special Taxing District deals only with their specific area of responsibility. One Special Taxing District needs $1 million/year to maintain emergency services. Another Special Taxing District collected $1 million/year in surplus funds to build a world-class library. Both provide benefits to the community, but were you given the option to rank those benefits?

The system is broken! The results are tragic!

Bob Miller

Fort Myers Beach



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