The City and County Commissions are set to raise the fire service fee by as much as 15% for residential service. Also, some apartment dwellers will be paying more than four times their current rate under the proposed changes.
On the business side, some commercial customers will pay 55% more than their current rate.
The proposed rate structure will increase the current revenue from the fire service fee by approximately $6 million or 18.4%.
The 2015 budget calls for approximately $32.6 in revenue from fire service fees. The new rates will increase the revenue to $38.5 million in future years.
The final study is anticipated to be completed in April 2015. If adopted, the rates would be implemented in October, 2015.
Based on preliminary numbers to be presented to City and County Commissions this week, residential rates will increase as shown below.
Zone 1 is for residents within 5 miles of two core fire stations and Zone 2 is for residents that live more than 5 miles from two core fire stations.
- Single-family – Zone 1 would increase from $179/year to $201/year
- Single-family – Zone 2 would increase from $161/year to $185/year
- Multi-Family – Zone 1 would increase from $125/year to $201/year
- Multi-Family – Zone 2 would increase from $43/year to $185/year
For non-residential property use categories, the table below provides a summary of the changes across all square footage tiers within each category. Commercial properties in Zone 1 will see a rate change of 26.6% while the Industrial Warehouse category in Zone 2 will see a 55.1% increase.
|Category||Zone 1||Zone 2|
The City and County plan on creating a single “Governmental” fee that would be applied to all governmental property classifications that include the State of Florida, FSU, FAMU, Lively Vocational, TCC, the Leon County School Board, Leon County, the City of Tallahassee, and the Federal Government.
How We got Here and Where We are Headed
The County and City jointly fund the Tallahassee Fire Department through a fire rescue assessment and fire rescue fees.
In April 2009, the City and County entered into a five year Interlocal Agreement that required a jointly funded rate study to be developed to determine the necessary funding to support the services being provided by the City of Tallahassee’s Fire Department. The approved rate study established an initial fire fee for a period of five years (FY2009 through FY2013).
In July 2013, the County and City negotiated an amendment to the Interlocal Agreement, which addressed a number of significant outstanding policy issues and held the fire service steady through October 1, 2015.
In addition, the Agreement required that beginning Oct. 1, 2015 , for five years, the single-family dwelling unit fire rescue charge rate cannot increase more than 15% in total over the five years.
Also up for consideration is a new way of levying the fire service fee.
In 2009, Florida law was amended to allow for fire protection funding by way of a local option sales tax of up to one percent. It is estimated that a one percent local option sales tax would generate $37.5 million annually, of which approximately 25% would be paid by tourists.
If the City and County agree to pursue this alternate method of collection, it must be passed by referendum in a general election, which at the earliest would be in November 2016.