MERGER CONTINUES TO SURPASS PROJECTIONS IN YEAR THREE

Article from the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District

At the general election in November of 2014, the voters of the Big Corkscrew Island Fire District and the North Naples Fire District overwhelming voted to merge the two districts to create the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District. The vote was taken after the two districts, in accordance with the Florida statutory merger process, held numerous public meetings to discuss the merger plan, created to illustrate how the merger would be accomplished and detail the projected operational efficiencies and financial savings which would occur. Nearly two and a half years into the merger, we are excited to share with you how far we have surpassed our projected plans for an efficient and effective merger.

LOWER MILLAGE RATES
• Lowered millage rate from 3.50 to 3.45 for past two years in the Big Corkscrew Service Delivery Area equaling a decrease in taxes of $59,000
• Lowered millage rate from 1.00 to .95 for past three years in the North Naples Service Delivery Area equaling a decrease in taxes of $1.3 Million
• The three year cumulative reduction in taxes is valued at $3,916,327 to our North Collier Fire District residents and business owners.

IMPROVED FINANCES
• Maintained stable cash reserves: at the end of Merger Year Two (September 30, 2016), cash reserves were $164K MORE in Big Corkscrew Island Service Delivery Area and $573K MORE in North Naples Service Delivery Area than projected in the Merger Plan.
• For Merger Year Three (October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2017), ending budgeted cash reserves are anticipated to be $507K more in the Big Corkscrew Island Service Delivery Area than detailed in Merger Plan and $1.4M more in the North Naples Service Delivery Area (even after wage harmonization, additional personnel and apparatus)
• Savings from State Premium Tax Funds from Big Corkscrew area not yet received, but anticipated to result in at least an additional $120K savings per year

IMPROVED SERVICE
• Standardized resources used to respond to calls throughout the new District
• Increased firefighter personnel by 20%: the District added 27 additional firefighters, or 9 per each of the three shifts, which means that 9 more firefighters are available to respond each and every day.
• By end of Year Three (September 30, 2017), the District anticipates 12 additional firefighters or 3 per each of the three shifts.
• In anticipation of increased growth in east of Collier Boulevard, the District has purchased land for an additional station (on Immokalee Road, east of Collier Boulevard).
• Now providing advanced life support services throughout the entire 264 square miles of our geographical boundaries of the district.

IMPROVED RESOURCES
• Decreased from two unions to one
• Negotiated one collective bargaining agreement so all employees receive the same pay and benefits, regardless of which service delivery area was their originating employer
• Combined and unified financial and administrative policies, software systems, financial systems and processes, and technological systems
• Decreased Chief Administrative Officers from 9 to 7

MERGER GOALS MET
• Equalized response Districtwide
• More firefighters available each day on duty to respond to calls
• The District has not used the financial reserves of one service delivery area to fund a tax decrease or stabilize reserves in the other service delivery area. Separate budgets and cash reserves have been maintained

The Board of Fire Commissioners and staff of North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District have worked diligently to this point to ensure the success of this merger. You can be assured that we will continue to work just as hard in the future for continued success, while always considering opportunities for further cooperation or consolidation that provide savings to all parties involved.