Budget conference: Which fire stations secure state funding and will end up hosed?
Rendering of Immokalee Fire Control Station 32.

Immokalee Fire Control Station 32
The Senate and House continue to disagree on which major fire stations will get state funding.

Everyone wants fire trucks coming when their house catches fire. But the House and Senate have a number of disagreements over which firehouses need to be hosed down in state dollars.

The latest offer from the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Committee shows different priorities.

The chambers both have agreed to budget $375,000 for building repair and maintenance for a State Arson Laboratory. There’s also good news for the Gilchrist County Fire Station, with appropriators agreeing to send more than $777,000 in funding.

But the chambers have major disagreements over fire spending otherwise. The Senate wants to give $6 million to LaBelle, in Hendry County, in order to harden a fire station and buy a new ladder truck. That small community notably was in the path of Hurricane Ian last year.

Similarly, the Senate seeks $6.5 million to rebuild Fire Station 31 in the Immokalee Fire Control District. There’s a fundraising drive in the community to rebuild that station. But the House doesn’t plan to contribute any state funding.

Senators want to provide $2 million for restoration of the Ponce de Leon Fire Station in Leon County. But the House doesn’t have that item in its plans at all.

The House does have $5 million set aside for two fire stations in Palm Coast. Stations 22 and 26 would each receive $2.5 million under the lower chamber’s latest plan.

Both chambers agree it’s time to renovate the Miami-Dade Fire Training Center, but the Senate only wants to cover $1 million for that project, and the House wants to turn over another $661,000 on top of that.

Meanwhile, the House wants to give $2 million for St. Pete Beach Fire Station 22, while the Senate would give half that amount. House negotiators want $1 million for the Sarasota County Regional Fire/EMS Training Academy, but the Senate so far won’t drip a dollar into that bucket.

The House is budgeting $1 million apiece to the Steinhatchee Fire Rescue & Public Safety Facility, the Treasure Island Public Safety Complex, and a fire station in Parrish, while none of those projects made the list for Senate negotiators.

But the Senate budget includes $1 million for a Martin County Public Safety Training Tower.

Budget conference subcommittees will meet throughout the week to resolve differences in each area. When remaining issues reach an impasse, they will be “bumped” to the full budget conference committee.

Lawmakers must reach an agreement on a final spending plan by May 2 to meet the 72-hour “cooling off” period required by the state constitution before they can vote on the budget to avoid pushing the Regular Session past its scheduled May 5 end date.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


One comment

  • Kenneth C Kovar

    April 24, 2023 at 10:14 pm

    Does anyone else think that letting the state legislators make city level decisions about fire trucks and fire stations is nuts?

Comments are closed.


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