Fire departments score in new budget

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By Carolyn Risner

The first public hearing on Levy County's proposed budget and millage rate almost passed without fanfare Monday night-that is until representatives from the Fire Advisory Board took to the floor.

Lamar Stegall, chairman of that group wanted to know point-blank what the county's fire departments were getting.

In a time of cutbacks and sacrifices, three departments-Chiefland, Cedar Key and Inglis-had asked for increased funding to carryout their duties.

Without lengthy debate, the county commissioners agreed that the extra funds were necessary.

Chairman Sammy Yearty justified the increase because Chiefland and Cedar Key are on the grow economically and Inglis needs to stabilize its department by attracting a chief.

Once the numbers were crunched, an additional $93,560 was added, pushing the budget to $63,779,787. Yearty said the funds could come from the county's reserve, leaving that amount at $870,000.

A short discussion, prompted by Tony Parker centered on adding dispatchers to ensure services were the best they could be.

"You are only as strong as your weakest link," Parker said, "and that's our weakest link right now."

The commissioners unanimously approved the millage rate of 7.4212.

A final public hearing on both the proposed budget and millage rate will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22.