New Fire Commissioner Sworn In

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Jim Knickle Joins Board

Following his selection by the Fire Board on June 24 to fill Seat 1 until the November election, Jim Knickle was sworn into the Fort Myers Beach Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners by Board Chair Larry Wood, at their meeting on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, held at the Beach Library.

Knickle has been a Fort Myers Beach resident for five years and is originally from Kettering, Ohio, where he spent over 40 years with the Kettering Police Department. From 1971-1977, he served with the U.S. Army Reserve and has a B.S. in Criminal Justice from University of Dayton. He currently serves as a member of the Fort Myers Beach Public Safety Committee, an advisory committee to the FMB Town Council.

New Fire Board member Jim Knickle is sworn in by Board Chair Larry Wood on July 8, 2020. Ellen Knickle is seen holding the bible for the swearing in process.

Early in the meeting, Fire Chief Matt Love presented a brief snapshot of the district’s Plan Review services from March 2019 – March 2020. Prior to that, plan reviews for the district were done by the county or other fire departments. After taking on the role of providing plan reviews in-house, the district began doing plan reviews for San Carlos Park Fire Department. Plan reviews are handled by Fire Marshal Ron Martin and Deputy Fire Marshal Jen Campbell.

Love explained that the department is recovering an average of 43% of their costs for plan reviews, with a goal of 50%. “In 2019, we restructured our overall budgeting goal to aim for 30% of costs recovered by fees and 70% covered by taxes,” said Love. “In coming months we’ll do a snapshot of special events also. The board approves the fee schedule along with the budget in September.”

Under new business, the board approved a Financial Adjustments Resolution to reconcile the FY 2019 budget regarding $1.4 million in unspent funds transferred to the FY2020 budget.

During a preliminary FY 2021 budget review, Love walked the board through the line items of budget income and expenses utilizing the same tax rate as last year, 2.9851. He explained that the final district assessed value went up 4.29% and the budgeted revenue for FY 2021 is up 4.4% with budgeted expenses down 17.4%. The Fire Board will set the Truth in Millage (TRIM) rate at their next meeting on July 22; they will also set the first Budget Hearing date..

Station 31

Taking the next step toward a new Station 31, the board authorized Love to use money from the Building and Equipment Reserve Fund to close on the $3,992,000 purchase of the former Topps property at 2545 and 2555 Estero Blvd. The fire district has been in due diligence since January, when the board authorized the purchase.

Station 31, the first fire station for the island, and for many years the only one, has been pronounced obsolete several times in its long life. It sits on just 0.11 acre at Estero Blvd and Donora Blvd, with no room for expansion. A needs assessment completed in 2017 concluded that the ideal location for a new Station 31 would be between its current location and Times Square, specifically at Estero and Delmar, just four blocks from the Topps property.

On January 8, 2019, the Fire Board began the process of replacing Station 31 by authorizing Fire Chief Matthew Love to make an offer on an appropriate piece of land contingent on board approval and assessment of the property. Exactly a year later, Love brought the Fire Board a contract to purchase the Topps property, which was unanimously approved.

In other business the board approved changes to the board policy; the addition of an Information Technology position; approved the Fire Chief’s Strategic Objectives for the next year and heard a report from union rep Todd Williamson.

Board meeting packet materials will no longer be available on the district’s website fmbfire.org/  They can be requested by contacting Angie Snyder at asnyder@fmbfire.org prior to the meeting.

The next Fire Board meeting is scheduled to be held at Town Hall on Wednesday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m.