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State task force says no consolidation for special fire district — at least for now

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Apr 7, 2021

pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com

Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District Commissioner Michael Dreikorn reported that the statewide task force in charge of consolidating special districts recently held a public Zoom meeting, which he attended.

“The previous meeting really centered on the consolidation of independent fire districts throughout the state of Florida,” said Dreikorn. “This meeting was significantly different. The co-chair of the task force, Matt Caldwell, who is our tax appraiser, mentioned there had been significant push-back with regard to the discussions on consolidation and that there may have been some misunderstanding by the community. It is not in the best interest of the task force to push forward with a recommendation to the governor for consolidation of the fire districts. That was big news…that was huge news.”

Although, Dreikorn said, this does not mean the discussion of consolidation is off the table for good, it’s not likely to make the final report to the governor for efficiencies in local government in 2021. It could, however, come back into the cycle for 2022. It’s a subject on which he recommends the community educate itself.

“The community needs to engage in its local fire districts, so they understand the value created by those districts,” said Dreikorn.

Dreikorn was chosen by the district to be its representative, which consists of engaging with the task force on topics such as this one, and report results back to the district, likely due to his experience communicating with state level officials.

“Special districts are established to serve the most local of our communities,” said Dreikorn. “People get out of those communities what they put into them. We strongly request that the residents of Matlacha and Pine Island engage with the special district so that they know what’s going on and have a voice in the future of the district.”