Marco Island citizens are concerned about how much it will cost them to control their own ambulance service. At the present time, Marco Island’s Fire Rescue Department costs citizens about 0.65 mils in property tax. This is about 1/3 of what the rest of the county pays on average. Ochopee pays 4.5 mils and Immokalee pays 3.75 mils.
There are only three cities in Collier County, Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City. Only Naples and Marco Island have their own fire rescue departments and both are about the same geographical size (6 by 4 miles) and both have a full time population of about 15,000. The rest of Collier County is serviced by various “fire districts,” and they pay an average of 1.82 mils property tax for fire rescue.
In 2016, a straw vote was taken in unincorporated Collier County to see if the citizens would like to consolidate all fire districts into a single independent taxing district. Naples and Marco Island were not allowed to vote. The vote was 64% in favor. As a result, in 2020, there will be a ballot proposal approved by the Collier County Board of Commissioners to combine all fire districts into a single independent taxing district.
Presently Marco Island has one full time ambulance which is the same that it has had since it became a City in 1996. Since that time, there has been a significant increase in population without an increase in full time ambulance service.
If Marco Island citizens vote “Yes” on the August 28, 2018 Primary Election Ballot to have their own COPCN, they will approve a plan for the City to have and control, THREE full time ambulances and an upgrade in service capabilities. The anticipated cost would be approximately $60 per year on an assessed property value of $500,000. That is less than the cost of a weekly cup of Starbuck’s coffee.
If the citizens vote “Yes” for the COPCN, then the citizens will be able to continue to exercise their right to HOME RULE, and to control the cost and the level of service they deserve. Otherwise, Marco Island ambulance service will be controlled by an INDEPENDENT TAXING District which means the citizens of Marco Island will have NO voice on how much they will be taxed, NO voice on how many ambulances they will have on the island, and NO voice on what level of service they will receive.
Remember those numbers I gave earlier. The rest of the County will be looking to lower their cost. Where do you think they will be looking to get the money? Marco Island is a very attractive tax base. Believe me, we will be paying more with no voice and less service. Similar to taxation without representation, don’t you think?
Linda J. Turner