COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- More than 60 percent of voters were in favor of two separate fire district mergers on Tuesday. WINK News investigated if these moves really save taxpayers money and reduce response times as promised.
For years voters have been in favor of fire districts merging in Collier County. That became clear Tuesday night when residents in the East Naples and Golden Gate Fire Districts voted for them to become one, along with those in North Naples and the Big Corkscrew area.
“If it’s specified what’s it’s going to be for and how it’s going to be done, I did vote for it because I think it’s a good idea, but it’s how it’s executed that matters,” said Selwyn Mills.
Mills lives in the North Naples Fire District. Even though he’s was in favor of the fire districts merging, he’s still skeptical on whether or not this will really benefit him in the long run.
“Not only be able to improve service but our boards together worked through this plan that also reduce the mileage rate in each district.” Which according to North Naples Fire Chief Orly Stolts, it will eventually save taxpayers money in the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District.
And when it comes to response times, Greater Naples Fire Rescue Chief Kingman Schudlt said having the districts function together works. “We have a better resource pool, we have more money to do these things and we’re providing a better service and response times to the citizens.”
Both chiefs agree this could change the future of how they operate.
Chief Schudlt said, “I think there’s definitely a sense of increased cooperation throughout the county.”
“It could, not only in Collier County but, it could open up across the entire state of Florida.”