News

 

We are Down to the Wire, and Your Vote Matters!
Make it Count for the Betterment of
The Villages Community!

The VHA encourages its members, and all residents of The Villages who are eligible to vote on the referendum to create The Villages Independent Fire and Rescue District on November 8, to VOTE YES!!

THIS IMPORTANT VOTE IS THE FINAL STEP IN A LENGTHY RESIDENT-DRIVEN INITIATIVE TO IMPROVE THE VITAL SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE VILLAGES PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT.  That goal will be accomplished with a yes vote that will place the department under the authority of a local board, elected and held accountable by residents, tasked with overseeing its operations, budget, service quality, and needs.  As an independent fire district, the department’s focus will shift away from the wider scope of county coverage and control to enhance its ability to target the specific and unique needs of our senior community. 

Several months ago, The VHA and The POA agreed on the need for this action as a solution to resident complaints and statistics regarding inferior ambulance services when first responders determined transport to a hospital was needed.  On-site arrival times by first responders and initial treatment was adequate, but there were not enough ambulances to handle the emergency case load that our senior community generates.  It seems, since more ambulances have been ordered, that some residents, and the POA, believe the problem has been fixed and there is no longer the need for an independent, Villages-centered fire and rescue district.  We do not believe that is the case.

We are aware there have been concerns raised about the cost of going to an independent model and how it will affect the bottom line for our taxes and amenities bills.  And, as always, a certain segment of our community is convinced that this is “a power grab and all about greed” by The Developer.  So, let’s try to separate fact from fiction and rumors, including the erroneous preconceived notion that the Morse family is behind every move that is made that involves change, whether it be conceived as a good, or bad change.  Let’s focus on what is best for our whole community without being swayed by baseless animosity and innuendo.

WHAT WILL CHANGE is the self-governance and autonomy of our fire department. Any increases in funding will include the assumption of ambulance and transport services, future fire stations, apparatus, and personnel to maintain a constant state of readiness in this ever-growing community.

  • FUNDING will be raised within the district itself, and used within the district for the specific needs of Villagers. The current cost paid by residents for fire and rescue services will go directly to VPSD rather than Sumter County. With an anticipated decrease in Sumter County property taxes, most residents will not see much of a difference in their annual bill.
  • OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY will be managed by a board of five
    Villages residents who, after initially applying for a seat with the Governor’s office, will be elected in nonpartisan elections by the voters within the district. Anyone within the district can apply for a position on the initial appointed board, and will be vetted and selected based on qualifications.
  • If the vote is favorable, The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District would formally become effective October 1, 2023.
  • ADDITIONAL BENEFITS INCLUDE: Better risk ratings by insurers (which will lower home owners’ insurance rates) and a recognized and more equitable and proportional sharing of costs among the variety of properties served.
  • WHY IT MATTERS: According to Chief Cain, The Villages Public Safety Department responded to over 24,000 Incidents in the 2021 – 22 Fiscal Year. 70% of those, close to 17,000, were for rescue and emergency medical service calls, medical emergencies, medical assists, motor vehicle crashes, and extrications. 17% of the incidents were service calls such as persons in distress, water leaks, smoke/smell of smoke, and smoke detector assistance. The other 13% of the Incidents were calls related to fires, hazardous conditions, false alarms, good intent, and severe weather.
  • RUMOR CONTROL: Every rooftop and business within the boundaries of the proposed independent fire and rescue control district will contribute fairly and equitably to the enhanced and improved services that will be provided.  No one will benefit financially or politically since this is, and should be, a non-partisan issue. 
  • VOTE BASED ON FACTS AND DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH: You are welcome to talk to those who are “in the know”.  Always CONSIDER THE SOURCE and whether or not it is trustworthy, reliable, and acting in the best interests of this community.  There is a wealth of information that is available on the District website at:  districtgov.org as well as on the website of The Villages Homeowners Advocates at www.thevha.net

Once again, we encourage you for the future well-being and sense of safety and security of The Villages, to VOTE YES!!! to establish The Villages Independent Fire and Rescue District on November 8th.  Your neighbors and generations to come will THANK YOU!