Navarre Beach Fire Rescue seeks rate hike


JENNIE McKEON @JennieMnwfdn

NAVARRE BEACH — Navarre Beach Fire Rescue wants to increase residential rates by $50 a year to help cover costs of station updates and a new ladder truck.

But even with full approval from leaseholders, Santa Rosa County officials say the department must still fund a study, at a cost of about $25,000, to determine if the rate hike aligns with the needs.

“It’s a $25,000 speed bump,” Fire Chief Danny Fureigh said. “I totally understand commissioners can’t go against legal counsel. We just weren’t planning for it.”

Fureigh said the department needs a new ladder truck, which will cost $679,000. With $400,000 in reserves for the down payment, the Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) increase would help pay the annual $43,000 payments on the truck and help update the station.

“Our truck is 21 years old and it’s costing the department annually in repairs,” Fureigh said. “It’s just reached its shelf life.”

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Navarre Beach residents, who now pay $350 a year, will pay $400 with the hike. The fire department also wants a new commercial rate of $1,000 per year for the first 10,000 square feet of a commercial property. Each additional square foot would be an extra 15 cents.

Navarre Beach Fire Rescue is funded by its MSBU. All rate increases need to be county-approved.

Fureigh and several Navarre Beach leaseholders attended Monday’s County Commission meeting to express their frustrations.

“It will take three to four years to recover from the study,” Fureigh told commissioners. “We don’t feel we need it.” 

County Attorney Roy Andrews said the issue is a matter of “case law,” but Fureigh said MSBU rates have been raised and lowered in the past without studies.

“Well, if it has not been done in the past, then that was probably a mistake,” Andrews said.

Navarre Beach Fire rescue will set the standard to “get this right,” Commissioner Bob Cole said. The board also committed to get the study completed by August.

Fureigh said the new truck will be ordered later this week.