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Fire service spate moves to courts

Government lawyers argue opposite views on control of the Township 22 fire district.

By WILL VAN SANT
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 24, 2002


BROOKSVILLE -- Attorneys for Brooksville and the county argued before a circuit court judge Monday over who will control the Township 22 fire district, which provides the city with roughly $330,000 a year in tax revenue.

Barring legal action, the county will take over the district, which includes an area outside of the city of Brooksville, Oct. 1.

Brooksville City Attorney David La Croix told Judge John Booth that residents from Township 22 and the county must vote to approve such a takeover, and cited state laws that block outside governments from dissolving special tax districts.

Shortly after the hearing, La Croix said the county was "doing it for the money. They want to use money from Township 22 to subsidize services outside the township."

Assistant County Attorney Kurt Hitzemann interpreted state law differently, contending that the county is not bound by the legislative statutes cited by La Croix.

After the proceeding, Hitzemann said the county takeover is meant to provide improved fire service to Township 22 residents at a lower cost -- not pad the county's coffers.

"We can do it more efficiently," Hitzemann said.

Judge Booth said he would review the arguments and make a decision "as soon as possible."

-- Will Van Sant covers Hernando County government and can be reached at 754-6127. Send e-mail to vansant@sptimes.com.

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