The City of Tamarac fire services could soon be provided by Broward Sheriff’s Office. During a recent strategic planning session, elected officials pondered whether or not it would be cheaper to turn over their fire services to BSO. A majority of the City Commission gave consensus to City Staff to reach out to BSO to get cost estimates after the question was posed by Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton. Vice Mayor Bolton says the only reason why he posed the question was that Tamarac Residents have complained about their tax bill and something needs to be done to give them relief quickly. “Times are hard for Tamarac Residents,” he says, “we are facing a housing crisis and residents are faced with utility and food insecurities, so we need to find innovative ways to pass on tax savings to them.” He added.
The City’s Communications Director released a statement on Saturday saying that the proposal development process is expected to take several months. The findings will then be presented to the Tamarac City Commission to determine the next steps. In the meantime, no Tamarac Fire Rescue services disruptions are expected during the exploratory process.
Rumors are swirling; however, that this is political retribution against the Tamarac Fire Union.
Vice Mayor Bolton debunked those rumors calling them laughable. He said those were innuendoes and lies from Commissioner Villalobos. “This is about cost savings for residents, nothing more, and nothing less,” he said.
Of the current five sitting elected officials, only one has ever been endorsed by the Fire Union.
The union provides financial support and boots on the ground to elected officials they support. “The greatest endorsement one can ever have is of its residents and I have earned that twice,” Bolton said, who convincingly won re-election by almost 75% of the votes in 2020. Commissioners Wright, Villalobos, and Daniel all won their first elections without fire support in a three-way race. In those races, the Union supported at least one of their opponents, including former Commissioner Julie Fishman, who lost her re-election bid amid concerns that she received a $700 car allowance while she rode a bike to City Hall.
Vice Mayor Bolton says that in Tamarac, elections are won without the Fire Union, “… and we will continue to do so with or without them,” he said, “and might I add, policy is not political so Villalobos should be ashamed of himself for suggesting that.”
Days before the question was posed, the Tamarac City Commission unanimously supported Commissioner Kicia Daniel’s desire to purchase a Fire Truck for Fire Station 36 in her district, District 4. Commissioner Wright toured Fire facilities and Commissioner Bolton praised the Fire Fighters for their hard work. There is obviously no political bad blood among Commission members when it comes to Fire Services and the record shows that Bolton has always supported the Department’s initiatives.
Commissioners reduced the Tamarac millage rate twice in the past two years, an initiative led by Bolton and former Commissioner Gelin. But reducing the millage rate is not enough. Residents are starting to take notice of their tax bills. Many now realize that the Fire Assessment portion of their tax bill is even higher than the millage rate portion.
“The biggest users of fire rescue services are vehicle crashes… not your average citizen under 65.” A resident wrote on social media, “The Fire rescue assessment fee is more than the entire millage rate portion for the City of Tamarac property tax bill, that’s unreal and too expensive” the resident added.
A formal letter of inquiry sent to BSO Fire Rescue from Tamarac’s City Manager, Levent Sucuoglu, will officially initiate the process. The letter will request a listing of all advance City of Tamarac actions necessary for BSO Fire Rescue to prepare a proposal for Fire, EMS, Emergency Management, and Community Risk Reduction services in Tamarac. Upon completion, BSO Fire Rescue’s proposal to the City of Tamarac will outline operational costs, staffing needs, asset allocations, facility management, and more.
As the news of the initiative becomes more known, residents are commending Tamarac leaders for even asking the question, “more cities will fold their fire rescue services into BSO as operating costs continue to rise and the cost/liability of municipal pensions continue to be a burden on the Cities budgets.” said Charles Wilson, a community HOA President. He is referring to Dania Beach, Weston, Deerfield Beach, and a slew of other cities that now enjoy the same level of service for a fraction of the cost. “Tamarac elected officials are smart for asking the question, that’s what they should do, that’s what they were elected to do” another resident said on social media.
If the City chooses BSO to provide Fire services in the end, but for the cost of the services, a lot would not change. Staff would be assigned and paid by BSO. The Fire stations would remain where they are and the apparatus would continue to be top-notch.