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Lealman Fire Board aims for independence
By ANN LINDBERG
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2000
LEALMAN -- As the legislative session draws to a close, the Lealman Fire Board has inched closer to becoming an independent fire district.
The state House gave unanimous approval Monday to a local bill that would enable the district to start collecting its own taxes so it can run independently of the county. All that's left is for the state Senate to give its approval before the transition can take place.
If all goes well, Lealman fire Chief Gary Wolff said, the board would like to hold a referendum during the September primary. The referendum would give Lealman residents a chance to approve the changeover and allow the board to collect taxes.
Currently, Pinellas County pays the board to provide fire service in the unincorporated Lealman area. But under that system, firefighters and paramedics are not entitled to state-level retirement and long-term disability benefits. The board cannot afford to provide such benefits on its own because of the high cost.
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