It's nearly 45 years old, and Lake County Fire Rescue's Station 71 in Leesburg is just one example of a station that desperately needs to be replaced.
“Right now we have people living in these stations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and some of them only have one bathroom,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jack Fillman,
Fillman says Station 71 was actually meant for storage, he says it has a small living quarters, the electrical isn't adequate and firefighters have to use this adjoining barn to park their larger fire truck.
“Our budget is going to be about $1.2 million short of where we are right now over the past three or four years we've been maintaining our budget through reserves,” Fillman said.
County residents already pay a flat rate fire assessment fee, but Fillman says Lake County Fire Rescue is requesting an increase to the Municipal Service Tax Unit, which is part of the county’s ad valorem tax to fill the budget gap,
“The only way to balance the budget is either to cut services or to increase the revenue stream,” Fillman said.
In addition to Station 71, two others need major renovations; Fillman says if revenue doesn’t increase, cuts are inevitable.
“My biggest fear is having to cut personnel and close fire stations,” Fillman said.
On July 22 commissioners will start the process of setting the ad valorem tax for next year.