Attention Destin voters: something smells fishy here. Did you receive a flyer-handout this past week encouraging you to vote "Yes" for your "Destin Fire Control District" on May 14? This election is a single- issue ballot and your informed vote is needed. The flyer-handout is misleading at best and deceptive at worst and I urge you to vote “No” on the May 14 ballot proposal!
The flyer-handout would lead you to believe you are voting for a Destin Fire Control District millage increase from 1.0 to 1.12 to meet the "anticipated" budgetary needs for the upcoming year. This is not what you are voting for. A “Yes” vote gives your Fire Commissioners (can you even name one of the five?) an increase from their present 1.0 millage cap to the state maximum allowable cap of 3.75 mills, a potential Fire Control District tax increase of 275 percent.
Yes, it's true many state fire districts have the state maximum 3.75 millage cap. That's because cities like Ocean City and other small or rural districts are not blessed with the broad tax base that Destin enjoys.
The good news is construction is again on the rise in our area, and the resulting increase in ad valorem taxes alone should help raise additional revenue for our fire department, even if the present 1.0 millage cap stays in place.
This current proposal is clearly an overreach by the Destin Fire Commissioners. Why would taxpayers give them a "blank check" for up to a possible 3.75 millage rate when even the flyer-brochure claims an increase to 1.12 mills will do the job?
If you want to find out more about your fire commissioners who approved this ballot initiative don't go to the Destin Fire Control District website, www.destinfire.com because you will find not find a list their names nor any information on how to contact them, when they meet, nor any agenda or minutes of past meetings.
Where is the sunshine and common sense? It's time this board stopped flying below the radar. We deserve better from elected fire commissioners who each make about $24,000 over their four-year term while attending one monthly scheduled meeting, plus a few annual budget workshops.
Perhaps next time our fire commissioners will come forth with a more fiscally responsible millage cap proposal. In the meantime, I hope they shine a little sunshine on who they are and what they do. After an inquiry I was told they meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Airport Road fire station.
Only a small percentage of Destin voters will bother to vote on May 14. Let your voice be heard.
Claude G. Newland
This 16 minute video about the upcoming May 14 Destin fire referendum begins with some terrifying scenarios and rather ominous music. The fire district then goes on to say that unless voters approve the measure, all employees face across the board compensation cuts of 18 percent or 15 employees will lose their jobs. A fire district representative goes on to say that unless voters approve the millage cap max, "response times will compromised" and firefighters will be in increased danger. Click here to watch