The Key Largo Volunteer Fire-Rescue Department, which lost its contract last May to provide emergency services, is still battling the taxing district that controlled its purse strings over land the department owns.
That land, around mile marker 100, is where one of two fire stations sits.
Since the Key Largo Fire-Rescue and Emergency Medical Services District cut ties with the original fire department, a new outfit was formed by leadership of the Key Largo Ambulance Corps.
But both the taxing district and the newly formed department want the land and several vehicles that belong to the original department.
Matthew Francis, an attorney contracted by the district, sent a letter in late January to the original department offering to by the land, at 1 E. Drive, for $15,000.
But the original department still exists, despite not having the contract to provide Key Largo fire protection. Frank Conklin, president of the department's board of directors, sent a Feb. 9 letter back to Miller stating the land is not for sale.
Not only that, Conklin says the taxing district owes the department $1,926.23 in rent.
The taxing district's five-member board voted 3-2 this week instead to continue paying the former department $1 a month to lease the land. It also agreed to pay around $600 to cover monthly utilities and insurance.
Conklin said the amount is not acceptable.
"They're trying to see how long it is before the old corporation will run out of money and then they can go in and take" the land, Conklin said.
Many members of the new department, the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department, are former members of the original department. But Conklin said none of the roughly 30 members of his department have resigned, despite serving in the new organization.
The board voted last year 3-2 to cancel the Fire-Rescue Department's contract, mostly out of frustration over the leadership of its chief, Sergio Garcia. Commissioners Bob Thomas, Marilyn Beyer and George Mirabella were particularly bothered that Garcia, who led the department for 15 years, ignored key recommendations made in two independent consultants' reports.