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LA-MSID, fire district seek assessments resolution

October 17, 2017
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District and the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District were scheduled to meet this week regarding the fire assessments.

On Oct. 16, officials with both entities were to discuss a dispute regarding the district's special assessment fees and recently approved hikes passed by the fire board in August. Fire commissioners approved the 4.1 percent increase to the assessments during their final rate resolution meeting.

The fire assessments were imposed on the LA-MSID, which spurred the disagreement.

Article Photos

David Lindsay

"LA-MSID had a certain period of time to challenge the district after they imposed their new assessments," LA-MSID District Manager David Lindsay said. "It's not in the litigation process at this moment. Our lawyers have simply filed a motion in the courts."

According to Lindsay, the fire district wants the LA-MSID to pay the assessments since it changed its methodology in 2015, replacing the ad valorem tax collection to a non-ad valorem collection.

Lehigh residents voted 51 percent in favor of switching the collection method.

Lindsay explained that the way the current laws are set up, the fire district is required to pay an assessment fee generated by the LA-MSID, but not vice versa.

"In our laws, it specifically says that we do not have to pay taxes to certain agencies," he said.

Even though legal representatives from both sides are unsatisfied with the current arrangement, Lindsay feels confident that the two agencies can settle the dispute.

"I think that we can come to some kind of terms during our meeting and serve as an example of how government agencies can resolve conflicts amicably," he said.

Fire district officials and the district's attorney declined to comment. However, Fire Chief Robert Dilallo noted that the district and LA-MSID have a "great working relationship."

"This is strictly a legal issue that is being worked out between the lawyers and commissioners," he said.

Lindsay said officials want residents to feel confident in the agencies' ability to work it out.

"The last thing we want to do is waste taxpayers' money on legal fees," he said.



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