Navarre Beach residents in favor of fire tax for volunteer fire department

Navarre Beach residents in favor of fire tax for volunteer fire department

Santa Rosa County commissioners will be asked to approve a tax hike to finance improvements to the Navarre Beach Volunteer Fire Department.

The proposal would raise the fire tax from $350 to $400 for people who live on Navarre Beach.

Santa Rosa County commissioners heard from the Navarre Beach Volunteer Fire Department about the need for the $50 tax increase, to support improvements there.

Captain Danny Fureigh said they need to purchase a $660,000 ladder fire truck and maintain fire and ambulance equipment.

"Our vehicles there are in need of replacement," said Fureigh.

Fureigh said it will also help renovate the fire department that is in disrepair.

"Our building in general, literally the back part of our building is falling off," explained Fureigh.

The president of the Navarre Beach Leaseholders Association said many residents who live there are in favor of the proposal.

"Of the 82 people present at our January meeting, unanimously adopted," said Peter Birckhead.

Birckhead said he supports first responders and wants to see them receive better pay along with the equipment needed to respond to emergencies.

"We need to make sure that our fire department has the right equipment, right personnel, benefits for those personnel and a well-working, well-maintained firehouse," Fureigh explained.

As far as how the increase would impact commercial businesses, Birckhead said the decision will be left up to county leaders.

"The new Springhill Suites is kind of different animal for us, it's on privately leased land and we're dealing with the proper rate the hotel should be charged with," said Birckhead.

"We're going to do a comparison of other fire districts and make it fair across aboard. We are going to compare to another hotel same size and see what they're paying," Fureigh added.

County commissioners plan to meet on Thursday to further discuss the fire tax increase.

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