Cooper City commission to decide whether to keep Broward Sheriff's Fire Rescue

Davie officials say they can perform job for less money

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

COOPER CITY, Fla. - A battle over the cost of Fire Rescue services has turned into a showdown, bad blood and a war of words between Cooper City and the Broward Sheriff's Office.

A vote is scheduled for Tuesday night to settle the dispute once and for all.

"There's no argument: With boots on the ground, they are terrific," Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross said.  

Ross told Local 10  News investigative reporter Bob Norman that he likes the job that Broward Sheriff's Fire Rescue is doing in his city, and it's Sheriff Scott Israel with whom he has a problem.

"The sheriff has yet to own his mistake. That's the problem," Ross said.

The dispute is over the cost of an additional three-person Fire Rescue team. BSO initially said it would cost $1.2 million, and based on that, the city last year raised taxes and locked in a new budget.

But BSO said later that the real cost is $2.1 million.

"We were in a position of no-win," Ross said.

When the city balked, Israel came down to $1.8 million, and at last week's workshop meeting, Israel dug in his heels.

"(That) $1.2 million -- it was an estimate, no more no less, and I see you shrugging, Mr. Mayor," Israel said in the meeting.

The sheriff said the city should have known that BSO's initial $1.2 million figure was bogus.

"(The number) $1.2 million -- anybody, any city manager, should have known that number is impossible," Israel said. "David Copperfield is the only person I know that could have done that."

Meanwhile, officials from the nearby Town of Davie attended the same meeting and said it could do the job for $1.5 million, prompting BSO to change the number again, this time to $1.63 million.

"I don't know what to trust. Show me the numbers," Ross said. 

The Cooper City Commission will vote Tuesday night on a choice between Davie and BSO.

The mayor told Norman that if the sheriff matches the $1.5 million price from Davie, he'll go with BSO.

It's unclear whether Israel, who refused to comment on the issue, will budge from his latest price.

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