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Can we afford first class?

March 21, 2018
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

Reviewing our last Real Estate Tax Statement, I believed that I noted an arithmetic error and called Lee County to question if the decimal point for the millage of the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire District was an error because the tax amount was multiple times higher than our usual fire insurance on our 20-year-old manufactured home! (If you haven't I suggest you check yours).

The County Clerk said there was not an error and suggested I call the fire company for confirmation. I spoke to the Fire Chief who confirmed the millage was correct. I told him for senior retirees, over $600 for a single home was ridiculous ($250 would have been high). He replied that's what you pay for a first class fire department. They are building a new station and need to update their equipment and pay salaries.

My question is is Lee County or anyone watching the store? If not, someone needs to. This millage is exorbitant. Third highest of all taxing bodies and many property owners on Pine Island are seniors like us and fly coach because we can't afford first class. Whoever set this millage needs to be informed that this is not New York, Sanibel or Marco Island with their much higher incomes and there aren't any high rise condos, etc., to justify this millage.

If the fire company's accounting is valid, is there anyone that has the knowledge or expertise on state and federal grants that can step up and help both the Fire Department and us?

We agree that the firemen deserve a fair salary but not at a New York level and that Ford or Chevrolet equivalent equipment works just as well.

Help! Is someone trying to force senior retirees off Pine Island and make it into another Sanibel for hi-rollers?

Is it fair to tax St. James property owners for the Matlacha fire house? Something needs to be done before the next tax bill is due. Ex.: Maybe a maximum dollar clamp per home.

Tom Mickowski

Retired senior

St. James City



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