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Fire Board talks filling commission seat

Chief Mickuleit’s contract also on agenda

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Sep 16, 2020


The Matlacha Pine Island Fire Control District has issued a declaration of vacancy concerning seat number 5 and the board will decide how best to fill the seat.

The decision came Aug. 26 in the wake of Fire Commissioner Ken Cox resigning his seat to move out of state.

The vice chair position was accepted and unanimously voted on to go to Commissioner Ila Valcarcel, and the Secretary position with a unanimous vote to Commssioner Neil Price. Commissioner John Cammick suggested replacing seat number 5 with Michael Dreikorn, who formerly held a seat on the Matlacha Pine Island Fire Control District Board, until his recent departure to run for the Lee County Commission.

Cammick cited Dreikorn’s experience as a former board member as a potential asset to the panel.

District attorney Robert Pritt explained to the board that the appointment decision was theirs, although it did not have to be decided at the meeting since it was not on the agenda.

Jamie Brush made public comment regarding the possibility of the board bypassing other would-be candidates for the position.

Dreikorn told the board if they appointed him he would accept the seat.

Price suggested the board discuss the matter further in fairness to anyone who may hold an interest in running for the seat, although he saw the benefit of filling the seat quickly. A special meeting to fill the seat was scheduled for today, Sept. 16, at 5 p.m. at station 1, one week before the final budget meeting on Sept. 23.

It was brought to the board’s attention by Commissioner Tonya Player that when Fire Chief Ben Mickuleit began, he accumulated compensatory time as a part of his original contract, for which he has not been paid. Player suggested compensating Mickuleit with available funds and removal of the non-payment as a liability. Mickuleit explained the contract stipulated that any labor over 40 hours was not to be compensated unless it was during a state of emergency, which the state would reimburse. Cammick pointed out the time spent on the part of Mickuleit was never paid. Mickuleit said the board is under no obligation to pay him out at the moment, but that it was in his original contract that he was to retain the hours he worked over his regular time. He said since the compensatory time will continue to compound it is his desire to work with the board to successfully utilize the earned wages thereby removing it from the budget as a liability. A determination was made that Mickuleit is owed both incentive and longevity pay over a period of the past four years. The total will be calculated and discussed at a future meeting.

The final budget and general board meeting scheduled for Sept. 23 will be an in person, socially distanced meeting at station 1 at 5:01 p.m.