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Lee safety leaders say no to consolidation

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February 20, 2008


Leesburg --  After a $16,000 study that looked at pros and cons of consolidation, Lee County safety leaders are against it.  

They made their concerns clear Tuesday night at a special called meeting. Commissioners are considering consolidating fire and emergency services in the county. The changes could lower insurance ratings and save the county some money.

But both the county's interim fire chief and EMS Director pleaded to commissioners not to consolidate.      

"These guys want to be paramedics. They want to work for EMS. They have no desire to be firefighters or be trained," said EMS Director Bobby Watkins.  

"Fireman is best suited for doing fire type calls and paramedics are better suited for paramedic calls and it comes down to an issue of quality versus quantity," said Interim Fire Chief James Howell.  

Bobby Watkins says the majority of his employees could be lost to Dougherty or other counties if changes take place.

Chief Howell wants commissioners to look at a possible district or countywide fire tax to increase safety services.

Voters would decide on a ballot. County commissioners could make a decision on the issue at their next meeting.

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