During a special meeting held on June 26, the Brooksville City Council voted unanimously to increase the city’s fire assessment by 3 percent. The new assessment for a single-family property is expected to be $179.86. Other property types will be assessed per square foot; commercial property, $0.0634, industrial and warehouse, $0.0388, and government property, $0.1061.
While the increase is for the overall budget for the city’s fire department, of importance to the council, is the certification of the city’s fire and emergency team to provide Advanced Life Support (ALS). The ALS certification allows personnel to provide services they are currently unable to, such as administering medication or starting intravenous fluids (IVs).
ALS-certified emergency medical personnel will also increase the cost paid by the city for their training and salary requirements. The ALS certification is “absolutely critical” according to Fire Chief Brad Sufficool. “To have the first arriving units able to provide advanced life support can be the difference between, no pun intended, life or death.”
Council Member David Bailey emphasized the importance for the certification as well, giving taxpayers justification for the increase. “We’re asking the taxpayers to pay more, and I want to give them more.”
The 3 percent per-year increase has been standard in recent years. The ALS certification could take at least another year to obtain and is an important designation, but retaining those certified employees is also a concern. Bailey said, “I feel like we’re giving (the fire department) this raise every year, and the people aren’t getting any more … it’s not fair. But I understand also employees get their certification and then they move on for higher pay.”