ISLES OF CAPRI, Fla - A big decision lies ahead for the future of the Isles of Capri Fire Department. The district is currently run by Collier County.
For years, the fire board has said something needs to change and now they may be close to a solution.
It has been more than a year since Isles of Capri Fire Chief Emilio Rodriguez was unexpectedly fired. Collier County staff made the decision and didn't relay the message to the fire board until afterwards. The community has moved on, but his dismissal ignited a movement to change the management at Isles of Capri.
"What we are trying to do is find a better way to manage the Isles of Capri Fire Department so that we can maintain our small town, local fire department on the island here," says Isles of Capri Fire Advisory Board Chairman Joe Langkawel.
Langkawel says controversy over control and management of the fire district goes back more than decade.
"Over the years we have found being under the county bogs down our system, it slows it down and it limits our options greatly as to where we can find cost savings," says Langkawel.
Right now, the fire district is considering three different options:
1) Merge with East Naples
2) Merge with Marco Island
3) Stay under the county, but amend the MSTU or current taxing district, which would give board members more authority.
"We suffered some problems because of the chain of command and the way things went down a year ago, which we're all beyond now, but we want to make sure that doesn't happen again," says Isles of Capri resident John Rogers.
Ultimately the decision will come down to the board of Collier County Commissioners. "As their commissioner, I want what is best for them and what they will be happiest with. They're making a huge decision right now," says commissioner Donna Fiala.
The fire district advisory board is expected to present the three options to the board on January 8th. A decision could come as early as March or April.