Mexico Beach City Council discusses future of city's fire protection

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. - At the Bay County Commission's last meeting, Mexico Beach city officials approached commissioners with the request to take over their fire protection.

Their hope is that the county will implement their municipal service tax on Mexico Beach residents to pay for this service. 

Since then, Bay County City Manager, Bob Majka, said the county has been researching the feasibility of this request.

"We have to look at issues such as the state of their facility, their apparatus, the status of their equipment, they have a number of people that they've hired they have to look at how their wage structure integrates with our wage structure," he said.

Mexico Beach City Council met Tuesday night for the first time since making this request.

Residents in attendance, city council members and Mexico Beach Fire Chief, Daniel Simmons, are on all board.

"I think it will be a good thing for the citizens of Mexico Beach, but we're kind of at the County's mercy," Chief Simmons said.

The issue was on the agenda at the city's meeting on June 12.

The city council had a first reading of the ordinance to have the county take over the fire department.

City Administrator, Mell Smigielski, said the first reading makes residents aware of the possible changes.

"Lets everyone know, gets it out in front of the public, this allows them to know that this is coming so at the next meeting they can have more say," he said.

But for now, it's in the county's hands.

The county commission will hold a public hearing on the topic at their June 19 meeting which will decide if they move forward or not.

"We'll be prepared to make a recommendation to the county commission as to whether we proceed with that request or if we thank them very much and have to decline it," Majka said.

If the county moves forward with the request, the city of Mexico Beach will hold a second reading and public hearing at their next city council meeting.

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