Official isn't sure if she's still one

An inquiry is under way to determine whether a fire commissioner's term is up.

Published March 31, 2007

Maybe Margaret Perreira is a Spring Hill Fire Commissioner.

Then again, maybe not.

The County Commission appointed Perreira in 2004, when only two people ran for three open seats, according to county records. But her appointment expired in November, at least according to the certificate presented to her by the board.

"I questioned that at the time, but I was told, 'Oh no, it's a four-year term.' That was from the supervisor of elections," Perreira said Friday.

"I don't set terms for anybody," said Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams. "That's not my job. That's something she would have had to check with Spring Hill Fire Rescue or the board."

Williams said the Spring Hill Fire Rescue district is responsible for notifying her which seats are up for election. Her responsibility is to see that information makes it onto the ballot, and that the votes are counted.

Perreira said that as far as she knows, she is a valid commissioner and her votes still count. "Someone in elections should have had this under control."

"This is the first I'm hearing of it, so I can't really comment on something I haven't had a chance to review," said Spring Hill Fire Commission Chairman Charles Raborn. "We'll have to look into this."

"Only in Hernando County," sighed Sterling Ivey, spokesman for the Florida Department of State, which oversees the Division of Elections.

The state doesn't track terms for single-county special districts, Ivey said. That's the county's responsibility.

But who in the county is responsible?

Williams says it's not her. "If it was my job, it would have been done."

Assistant County Attorney Jon Jouben said Perreira is possibly a valid "holdover" appointment.

"We are investigating and researching the situation," he said.

Andrew Salzman, attorney for the Spring Hill Fire Rescue district, didn't return calls for comment. Neither did Spring Hill Fire Chief J.J. Morrison.