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On Sept. 8, Collier County commissioners approved the agreement that allows Greater Naples Fire-Rescue District to begin managing the Isles of Capri Fire District on Oct. 1.

To make a smooth transition, a meeting of the key players to work out the details is scheduled for Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. in Collier County Government Center Building F, Noles Conference Room. The meeting is open to the public.

Wayne Martin, director and planning officer for the Greater Naples district and former Capri operations manager, is facilitating the transition.

“Oct. 1st is going to come and go seamlessly because we are ready,” said Kingman Schuldt, the Greater Naples district chief. “Beginning Oct. 1st, team members will be at ICFD Station 90 every day as we are setting up an operation site here so that we can talk about whatever the staff needs to discuss.”

Greater Naples has already scheduled a meeting with Emergency Management Services “so that we don’t miss a beat operationally,” said Schuldt. “The differences we see are in terminology, that’s all."

The Capri staff of six full-time and two part-time employees will be processed like new employees.

“They will all have physicals, background checks and inducted like all new members to the organization,” said Schuldt.

“Their new uniforms have already been ordered. There will be some new emblems in the station and on the equipment, but “I want to maintain the heritages of all of the districts,” said Schuldt.

The new seal will be that of GNFD in the center with East Naples, Golden Gate and Isles of Capri Fire Districts recognized on the outer edges.

“ICFD Engine 90 and Fire/Rescue Boat 90 will stay the same names,” Schuldt said. “We want people to remember where everyone came from, but want them to see themselves as part of the greater whole – Greater Naples Fire District.”

Currently, clarification is needed on whether or not an Isles of Capri advisory committee is required by the Municipal Services Taxing Unit that provides the funding for operations of fire and rescue services for the ICFD.

Whether required or not, Schuldt said he feels strongly that a committee should continue to provide a forum for communication, information and feedback about how the new management is progressing.

“We have the key to the shop, but it is your money,” said Schuldt. “We have to prove to the community that what we are doing is the right thing to do. I am a firm believer in open communication with the communities we serve.”

Donna Dolan, ICFD avisory cmmittee member,has been attending the Greater Naples board meetings and was complimentary of what she has experienced.

“They are very professional and highly organized, and seem to get just what they ask for to support a need,” Dolan said.

Jeri Neuhaus of the ICFD has applied to fill a vacancy on the current advisory committee. Her application was unanimously accepted by the current members at the Sept. 10 advisory committee meeting.

“This effort has been extremely positive and lays a template for the future,” said Ochopee Chief Alan McLaughlin.

The Greater Naples and Ochopee districts already are talking about inclusion of Ochopee in the future.

“We see this as seamless, all one system,” said McLaughlin.

The new agreement with Greater Naples will continue for three years, terminating on Sept. 30, 2018. It will be automatically renewed annually under the same terms and conditions, “unless either party desires to terminate it” in the manner set forth in the agreement.

The property rate for the Capri fire-rescue district will continue at $2 per $1,000 of taxable property value for the first two years, and be reduced to $1.75 if the agreement is renewed for a third year.

If a formal vote on a complete merger occurs, the tax rate will be set at the same rate of Greater Naples.

Contact Ann Hall at ahall7911@coconuttele.net

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