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  1. #1
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    Default EMS - the affluent to pay more

    12/30/02

    Ambulance district to sunset, MSTU to start

    (Editor's note: to "sunset" is to discontinue/abolish)

    SARASOTA, Fla -- It's one of those rare instances in government where those who have more will pay more.The Sarasota County Commission unanimously decided Dec. 17 to switch the county's emergency medical services to be based upon a home's taxable value instead of its square footage -- the more money the property is worth, the more the owner will pay."It's pretty much a wash," said Fire Chief Brian Gorski, of the affect on the county, since smaller property owners will see a decrease in their bill.Commercial buildings and apartment complexes will also adopt the new method.The homeowner of a a 2,552 square-foot home with a taxable value of $48,190 now pays $243.90 in assessments. Under the new method, the owner will pay $179.86 for fire and ambulance services, saving $64.04.By the same token, the owner of a 5,278 square-foot house with a taxable value of $564,280, who now pays $507.31, will see an increase of $224.11 to $731.42.Sarasota County Emergency Services provides emergency medical care to the unincorporated areas of the county and cities of Sarasota and Venice. Non-advalorem assessments collected within the fire-rescue and ambulance district fund the service.In August, the Florida Supreme Court issued its opinion in City of North Lauderdale v. SMM Properties Inc., concluding the emergency medical services do not provide a special benefit to property and therefore cannot be funded through assessments. Gorski said at issue in the case was the validity of a special assessment imposed by the city on property owners for the purpose of providing an integrated fire rescue program.Gorski said it was because of the state decision the county emergency services recommended abolishing the ambulance district and create an Emergency Medical Service District Taxing Unit, which is ad-valorem-based, to fund EMS services. The MSTU will begin in 2004.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Default

    Fixed rate taxes (like $10 per lot or $x per sq foot) always strike me as strange.

    But then again I live in New England where such things just aren't done.

    All property taxes in this part of the are set in mills -- a mill being $1 of tax per $1000 in assessed value. If your property is worth more, you pay more. My town's tax rate is something like 23.75 mills times 70% of your assessed value. Why they don't do a lower mill rate times 100% I can't figure out, but it's pretty much standard across Connecticut.

    The only time I've seen flat fees are for certain "property improvements" where someone would be assessed a fixed amount for bringing sewers into a neighborhood.

    I used to think our relatively small & frequent Towns weren't very efficient, but at least we don't have many "taxing authorities" -- pay property tax to the Town and maybe a Fire District, and Sales & Income Tax to the State. When you look at other parts of the nation where a tax bill may have 10, 20, 30 entries from various entities it's downright efficient.

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