INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue district will re-evaluate their position following the dismissal of their lawsuit in Circuit Court, Bill Ockunzzi said.
Ockunzzi, who will become mayor of Indian Rocks Beach next week, is one of the plaintiffs. The others are Patricia Muneiro, Jim Palamara, Ed Piniero and Albert Valery, all of Indian Rocks Beach.
The suit was dismissed wihout prejudice which means it is not foreclosed and the plaintiffs have an opportunity to amend their allegations.
The action may not be continued, Ockunzzi seemed to indicate. "There may be less utility in pursuing it," he said. "We'll meet with our lawyers and see if there is any strategic value in continuing with it."
Dissatisfaction with the fire district's policies and activties, triggered by the district's attempt to raise fees last year prompted the lawsuit.
If there was dissatisfaction before, it has been jacked up with the announcement last week that the fire district would seek additional fees on new development.
Those fees would be $1 per square foot on new construction. Rebuilding would also be affected with the fee applying to additional square footage.
One of the reasons cited by Ockunzzi in perhaps not pursuing the legal action against PSF&R is the formation of an oversight committee made up of jurisdictions served by the fire district along with county representation.
The cities served by the district are Indian Shores, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore and unincorporated territory on the mainland which is under county jurisdiction.
A meeting early in January resulted in the formation of the oversight committee which will send its findings to the legislature in Tallahassee.
PSF&R is a creature of the legislature and theoretically could be abolished with Clearwater, Largo and Seminole presumably taking up fire protection responsibility in the district.
The cities in the fire district had implored the county establish oversight over the district's management. The county refused to do so because jurisdiction lies with the state, not the county.
Brought together at a January 5 meeting in Indian Rocks Beach, all parties agreed to work together in establishing the oversight committee which will report to Tallahassee.
In the meantime, fire district officials have refused to recognize the oversight group and will not supply any information and testimony to it.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition