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City and County Set to Increase Fire Service Fee

Posted on March 9, 2015

City and County Set to Increase Fire Service Fee

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
Commercial 26.6% 9.0%
Industrial Warehouse 3.2% 55.1%
Non-Gov. Institutional (22%) 37.6%

 

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.

12 Responses to City and County Set to Increase Fire Service Fee

  1. connie Reply

    March 9, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    When will (12) Fairbanks Ferry rd. area start getting some of the benefit from these price increases…My goodness we pay and pay and get NOTHING….

  2. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    March 10, 2015 at 5:30 am

    This is a core service and Commissioners in the City and County use government as the excuse to charge a fee. There is no way that emergency services should not be covered by property taxes. This is just a tax spelled differently.

    • Hope Reply

      March 10, 2015 at 6:48 am

      Exactly!

  3. Hope Reply

    March 10, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Voters thought Kristen Dozier, Nick Maddox and Mary Ann Lindley were experienced. When voters stop voting Yordon’s and Pittman’s clients in then this community will thrive otherwise this nonsense continues.

    In addition we already have one county commissioner who does not live in his district and has pulled of this farce for 17 years.

    Look at the way they are handling the CDA fiasco. Their reaction to the CDA failures is: do nothing, write My Views to mislead the public, and sit there like a deer in headlights.

    Wake-up voters! Vote them out!

  4. Jon Reply

    March 10, 2015 at 8:07 am

    I am starting to understand firsthand why retired folks have to eventually leave their paid off homes. Local property taxes and fees (a tax with a different name)never ever seem to go down. Local government seems incapable of tightening their belts.

  5. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    March 10, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Several years ago the County pushed to move the fire service out of core services paid for by our property tax. When it did…it bragged about not raising taxes. It is, of course, a ridiculous assertion.The only saving grace here is that the County is better than the City.

    Consider that the City gouges taxpayers through the utility (about $20 million transferred annually which could go back into the pockets of citizens, and the poorest ones at that), through the fire service fee, and through waste collection.

    I was told by sources inside that the City got a reduction in rates when the County signed up with Waste Pro, but the City kept the difference instead of passing along the savings to taxpayers. So, these are three cash cows that the City squeezes its citizens through to keep the cash flowing.

    What this also does is it keeps any real discussion of budget priorities in the dark because the City always has so much additional cash flowing into its coffers.

    Just remember folks, every dollar the City takes from you is a dollar that has no chance of seeing the private sector in our community’s businesses, shops, and restaurants.

    It seems to me that Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor seems to be the only local elected leader who is willing to advocate on behalf of citizens.

    • Hope Reply

      March 10, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      But, money is needed for a restaurant bar for the mayor’s treasurer, a $5 million bridge, junkets to Sandestin and Pittsburgh, etc. Otherwise how will they fund their special interests?

      • Franklin Thompson Reply

        April 16, 2015 at 10:50 am

        It’s a $7M bridge.

        • Edward Holifield, M.D.

          Edward Holifield, M.D. Reply

          September 30, 2015 at 3:12 am

          It’s a 7.2 $million bridge.

  6. Robert Hamby Reply

    March 10, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    How about altering current services, instead of raising taxes? You know, like stop sending an engine to all the band-aid calls?

  7. Brad Reply

    March 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    I think that COT/ L.C. should pay me because I am over 10 miles away from any fire dept. if I have a fire I plan to roast marshmallows because my home will be ashes by the time they get there. Talk about not getting fair services!!! We need a new fire station in the Baum area to solve this injustice! 🙂 On a serious note, NO more TAX increases!!

  8. Billy Reply

    November 20, 2015 at 9:38 am

    No one is mentioning the fact that the Fire Dept. Union is getting a 23% pay increase over three years with their last negotiation!! The city has to fund that somehow too.

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