Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Venice Fire Services Will Stay

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Venice Fire Services Will Stay

Article excerpt

NO STUDY: Council won't look into possible savings from deal with county


Venice will keep its fire department.

In a debate that some argue has as much to do with civic identity as it did cutting government expenses, Venice leaders decided Friday not to move forward with a study on whether to shut down the city- run fire department and turn services over to Sarasota County.

The decision, made at a budget workshop meeting, reflected a general consensus on the City Council for keeping the department and ends several months of speculation about the fate of the fire department.

During discussion, council members Emilio Carlesimo, Jim Bennett, Kit McKeon and David Sherman all voiced their support in keeping fire services in the hands of the city for the immediate future. Mayor John Holic and council member Bob Daniels supported the feasibility study, and council member Jeanette Gates was absent.

"If that's the consensus of council ... then there's really no sense in doing a study because we're just spinning our wheels," Holic said.

Carlesimo, a former Sarasota County Fire Department medic, said the current city-run fire department performed just as well as a county-managed one would. He said his decision was also shaped in part by a strong public opinion from his constituents.

"The City of Venice takes pride in being a full-service city," he said. "I'm convinced that through the years the people who elected me, that it is their desire to maintain that full-service independent status."

McKeon and Sherman said it would be disingenuous to consolidate the city's fire service with the county when new three-and-a-half- year-long contracts for the fire department employees had just been ratified in July. The contract is set to begin Oct. 1 and run through Sept. 30, 2017.

Earlier this month, the city also reached an agreement with its police and fire departments to end city-run pensions for new workers. …

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