Officials explain ins and outs of proposed fire fee


Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 7:14 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 7:14 a.m.

City of Gainesville staff and Commissioners Scherwin Henry and Thomas Hawkins walked a small groups of residents through the details of a proposed fire assessment Monday night at Lincoln Middle School.

The Assessment would be levied against all properties within the city limits.

Mike Shipman was one of about eight residents at the meeting.

Shipman said he is in property management and he knows how quickly the proposed 4 cent per square foot tax on commercial space would ad up.

"On those businesses it's just going to be a tough tax," Shipman said.

"You don't know when another $1,000 is going to tip a business over the edge."

Shipman also took issue with the assessment including non-profit agencies like places of religious assembly.

"The state of Florida has spoken," Shipman said. "The people have told government you've got to do less and that means really, really working hard to balance the budget."

The fire assessment is being considered, in part, due to a forecasted $2.7 million deficit in the city's revenue.

As part of that deficit the fire department has been asked to submit its budget with a $650,000 cut to the department's $13.4 million budget.

The assessment would be used to prevent that budget cut for the department and also to pay for almost $1 million in capital improvement projects.

City staff presented the assessment as a stable revenue source for the fire department that wouldn't be subject to future limitations on the property tax system.

The fee would be assessed based on the type of property residential, commercial, institutional or industrial and what percentage of the fire department's responses are made to that property category.

A second public information meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., July 7 at Westwood Middle School Auditorium, 3215 NW 15th Ave.

City commissioners will vote July 16 on the option of implementing the assessment for the November property tax bill and at what rate the fee will be assessed.

The maximum rates per property type are as follows: $30 per household/unit for residential properties, 6 cents per square foot for institutional properties, 4 cents per square foot for commercial properties and 2 cents per square foot for industrial properties.

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