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Lee board approves fire engine repairs

Repairs to fire engines, turnout gear financed

LEESBURG — A plan by the Lee County Commission to purchase or lease upgraded firefighting equipment for its Department of Public Safety has hit a temporary roadblock.

While the needs are many and the available cash is scarce, recent equipment trouble has forced the commission to spend about $35,000 to keep two older fire engines operational.

County Manager Ron Rabun said the primary fire engines for the Leesburg and Smithville fire stations recently failed, making a complete rebuilding of the engines necessary at a cost of more than $17,000 each. The funds to pay for the repairs come from the county’s contingency fund, he said.

“We’ve got one (the Leesburg fire engine) back in service, and the other in the shop but not back yet,” Rabun said. “It will be about a week or so.”

Rabun said Smithville is being served temporarily by a backup unit, which is a former forestry unit truck. Both trucks requiring the engine rebuilds are 2003 models, he said.

Commissioners also approved spending up to $14,000 in updated “turnout” gear for Lee firefighters.

In preparing the next fiscal year’s budget, Rabun is expected to make recommendations to the commission on what equipment needs to be purchased or leased and how that can be financed.

“We think this will keep us going until the budget process, unless we have an additional fire engine failure,” Rabun said.

During a brief work session Tuesday night, the Lee County Commission set qualifying fees for those who may be considering a run for political office during this election year.

The fees range from $19.50 for the Lee County School Board to $1,779 for the sheriff’s office. The fee is set at 3 percent of the base salary for the offices.

In Lee County, the base salaries and qualifying fees include school board, $650 and $19.50; county commissioner, $5,320 and $159; coroner, $3,600 and $108; sheriff, $59,328 and $1,779, and chief magistrate, probate judge, clerk of superior court and tax commissioner, all $49,721 and $1,491.

The County Commission also reviewed a contract to provide indigent defense for Lee citizens who cannot afford legal representation. The cost is a maximum of $79,892 for the first six months of 2014. Lee participates in a program involving all counties in the Southwestern Judicial Circuit.

The board also voted to declare several pieces of county property as surplus. These in clued a 2002 Chevrolet Impala, a 1985 earthmover, a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria and a 1976 Dodge Tradesman Van.

Commissioners Ed Duffy and Luke Singletary did not attend Tuesday’s work session.