Published: May 25, 2010 1:30 PM EDT
Updated: May 25, 2010 10:31 AM EDT

The polls are open today for a special election to the Fort Myers Shores Fire District. Voters are deciding whether to raise the maximum tax rate, or keep it where it's at.

 

"We are not trying to do scare tactics. We are just trying to stay above the curve," said Chief Duey Duncan of the Ft. Myers Shores district. "We don't want to get to a place where we don't know where our next dollar is coming from. We don't want to use more money than we have coming in. We need a tax rate hike to offset the declining property values in this area. I am not threatening to lay off fire-fighters or cut services. But I do not want to have to dip into reserves to balance the next budget."

 

"They should do like the rest of us, and cut their budgets," said Tom Lavey, a homeowner in the district, east of Fort Myers along state road 80. "Every department is cutting, every family is cutting back, so they should do the same thing."

 

Others support the district. Sue Schelpf told WINK News: "I will vote yes. I like the department and what they have done for me when I had a car accident. I want them to have the best training and equipment. It is a price we have to pay."

 

Right now, the owner of a home valued at 100-thousand dollars, pays 200 dollars a year to the fire district. It wants permission from voters to increase that to a maximum of 300 a year, although Duncan believes commissioners will set the rate at around 250, if they get the okay at the polls on Tuesday.

 

The district is paying about 20-thousand dollars to put on the special election. The elections office tells WINK that 5 polling places will be open  until 7PM. It also says, 5,085 voters are registered in the fire district.