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Pinellas Park's approval inches Lealman district closer to merger

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 17, 2000

PINELLAS PARK -- The Pinellas Park City Council gave a cautious go-ahead to a proposal for taking over service for half the Lealman fire district. Seminole likely would take over the other half.

The Pinellas Park council's assent means city officials can talk with representatives from Pinellas County about the possibility of merger. Assistant City Manager Mike Gustafson told council members Tuesday that if there was going to be a merger, the county wanted to have it complete by Nov. 5. That's two days before the general election, when Lealman voters would have a chance to elect a new Fire Board.

The idea of merging with Pinellas Park and Seminole became more attractive to some Lealman board members and firefighters earlier this summer after annexations severely cut into the district's tax base.

They feared that future annexations would leave the fire district with higher and higher taxes for a dwindling tax base. The only way to prevent that, they thought, was to split the district and merge with nearby departments.

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