|Published:||Dec 10, 2012 9:10 PM EST|
|Updated:||Dec 10, 2012 10:54 PM EST|
COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - An old idea becomes new again as two Collier County fire districts talk about consolidating yet again.
But, this time, fire commissioners who support the plan say they have enough votes. Both Golden Gate and East Naples have fire boards where the majority of commissioners support saving taxpayer money by joining forces.
"I think it's the best thing to do. There's no reason they can't consolidate services," says East Naples resident Mickey Gargen.
Mickey and her husband Greg both went to the polls in November and specifically voted for change. "I thought it was time for a change. We need to be more efficient in our government all the time," says Greg Gargen.
The East Naples Fire Commission has four new faces, three of whom specifically ran their campaigns on consolidation.
"We have a unique situation here where Golden Gate and East Naples unions have consolidated already, so it will make it very easy for us to do it, we both have the same millage and I think it's really going to happen this time," says commissioner Jeff Page.
Union President Christ Tobin says, "firefighters believe we can get this done within a year, especially between Golden Gate and East Naples. We want to be the model for what the future of fire service is in Collier County."
Tobin says in the past the idea has never garnered enough support because joining forces means cutting positions from the top.
"We need to combine service administratively at the top so we can put those dollars back into cutting costs on the streets and cutting the costs for taxpayers and making sure service hits the door," says Tobin.
And while the votes may be there with fire commissioners, the final say will come down to the tax payer.
"It's just something that's been in the works for a long time and we just needs to get done," says Mickey Gargen.
"If it doesn't happen this time, it will never happen," says Page. "But, it's going to to happen."
Both commissioners will meet in a workshop to start ironing out the details. Once they give the okay, it will go to the voters for a referendum which could be as early as next November.
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