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Date of Issue: December 26, 2007

Fire district pursues discounts for home sprinklers

Residential property owners who install sprinkler systems may receive discounts or rebates on their assessments from the West Manatee Fire Rescue District next year.

WMFR commissioners during a meeting Dec. 20 at Station No. 1 in Holmes Beach encouraged Chief Andy Price to continue working on incentives for installing sprinklers in homes.

Such a program may also include providing rebates or discounts to property owners with sprinkler systems, even if such systems are required by code or law, such as commercial structures.

Price said an inventory of the district, which includes Anna Maria Island, found 465 properties with sprinkler systems. He said all but a handful of those properties were required by code. To offer those systems a discount on assessments would cost the district $22,000 to $50,000 a year in revenues.

Thus, commissioners were leaning toward reserving the discount for those not required to sprinkle their properties.

Price said the commissioners had several months to review their options and decide. A rebate or discount would be offered with new assessment rates in late spring.

In other business, commissioners balked at approving the chief’s request for about $48,000 for a review of the district’s buildings.

Price, with money from the building reserve fund, wants to hire a firm to complete analysis of the station houses to plan for repairs and improvements.

“We’ve been fixing things as they broke,” the chief said. “This way, we’re going to get an idea of the next five years and look at our space needs.”

But commissioners agreed that with the belt-tightening taking place from the state to local level in Florida, the expense was too high.

“Do we really need this now?” asked Larry Tyler, the first commissioner to express his concern about the costs.

“To me it’s just a waste of money,” he continued. “I’d rather spend money doing stuff to the buildings.”

“We’re limited on our funds,” added commissioner Jack Emery.

“I think this whole thing would be nice, but I don’t think we can afford it,” he concluded.

Price said he would investigate the cost of a limited review of WMFR structures, specifically roofs at two older station houses and air-conditioning systems that repeatedly have problems.

“I think the best thing to do is to ... pull this back to something that could be acceptable,” Price said.