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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Escambia Tax Increases??

    Escambia considers new fees

    Commission seeks moneyto fight fires, kill mosquitoes
    Steve Mraz
    @PensacolaNewsJournal.com

    Escambia County residents could soon see improvements in fire protection and mosquito control, but they'll have to pay for them.

    The Escambia County Commission on Tuesday is expected to consider how to pay for a $54 million, five-year improvement plan for Escambia County Fire Rescue. Commissioners also could vote on a significant increase in the amount Santa Rosa Island residents and businesses pay for fire protection.


    Also on Tuesday's agenda is a countywide millage rate increase to generate almost $1 million for mosquito control this coming fiscal year.


    "I think it will be a very difficult, contentious meeting," said Commissioner Janice Gilley.


    With two different mechanisms that could fund the five-year fire protection plan, it's difficult to say exactly how much more residents would have to pay. All county residents would pay $36 more a year for fire protection if commissioners decide to raise the fire-plan money through a municipal services benefit unit.


    If the commissioners decide on a municipal service taxing unit, half the county residents would pay a maximum rate of $96.10; half would not. Also under the taxing unit proposal, 33 percent of county residents would pay less than the $50 a year they currently pay.


    Commissioner Cliff Barnhart favors the fire improvements, but Commissioner Tom Banjanin said it's not necessary.


    "I'm not convinced fire service needs to have that much money," Banjanin said.


    The $54 million fire-protection plan is the conservative plan, not the "Cadillac plan," and is absolutely necessary, said Escambia County Fire Chief Ken Perkins.


    It will provide 44 new career firefighters, 15 new pumper trucks and two new ladder trucks among several other improvements.


    Perkins has the support of the county's volunteer fire chiefs on the plan.


    If the plan isn't approved, the volunteer department may have to curtail some of the services they provide, said Harold Pool, Brent Volunteer Fire Department chief.


    "You have three basic services in the county: fire, EMS and law enforcement," he said. "These you have to have or you've got chaos."


    Santa Rosa Island residents too could see a bigger hit in their wallets. Their fire-protection fee could increase from $50 a year to $201.38 annually.


    "I think the percentage it's increasing is too much," said Betty Thompson, Pensacola Beach resident. "If they equalized the percentage on a countywide basis, it would be OK."


    The increase is an effort to have beach residents and businesses completely cover the cost of the Pensacola Beach Fire Department, Escambia County Administrator George Touart has said.


    A proposed mosquito control ad valorem tax would increase property taxes by 0.11 mills. The increase would mean that homeowners with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay an extra $11 each year in property taxes and owners of homes with a $50,000 taxable value would pay an extra $5.50 each year in property taxes.


    The increase would pay for six new trucks, four new pest-control employees and two new surveillance technicians, among other improvements.


    Escambia County led the state last year in human West Nile Virus infections with seven.


    "My question on mosquitoes is, `Are cockroaches and fire ants next?"' Gilley said. "I don't think we can protect residents from every pest that enters the county."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default Taxes Go Up

    Cost of fire protection goes up

    Fee will be $75 after a $25 increase
    Steve Mraz
    @PensacolaNewsJournal.com

    All Escambia County residents will see a $25 increase in their fire service fee beginning next fiscal year.

    The Escambia County Commission voted Tuesday night 3-2 to raise county residents' current $50 municipal services benefit unit for fire service. Commissioners Tom Banjanin and Janice Gilley cast the dissenting votes.


    Commissioners originally considered raising the MSBU to $86.04, but Commissioner Marie Young favored a smaller increase.


    "I don't think that's asking too much," she said.


    It is unclear what the increase will fund. The commission originally was tasked Tuesday with considering two funding mechanisms - a benefits unit or a municipal service taxing unit - for a five-year fire improvement plan, which would have provided 44 new career firefighters, 15 new pumper trucks and two new ladder trucks among several other improvements.


    To fund that $54 million plan, the commission would have had to impose the $86.04 MSBU on residents or a maximum MSTU of $96.10 for residents. Half the county residents would pay the maximum rate of $96.10 under the property tax; half would not. Also under the taxing unit proposal, 33 percent of county residents would have paid less than the $50 a year they paid.


    Under the MSBU, Escambia County Fire Rescue will not be able to provide advance life support service or water rescue.


    To get to the MSBU proposal, commissioners Young, Banjanin and Gilley voted against the MSTU.


    "I don't feel we should put another property tax on the people of this community at this time," Banjanin said.


    County Administrator George Touart will be meeting with Escambia County Fire Chief Ken Perkins today to reassess priorities for the county's fire department because the original proposal called for the five-year improvement plan, and not a one-year plan.


    Also Tuesday, commissioners Young, Banjanin and Gilley voted against a 0.11 mill increase on property taxes to raise nearly $1 million for improved mosquito control. The improvements over the next several years would have created better mosquito control with less chemical spraying, said Keith Wilkins, county neighborhood and environmental services director.


    Touart said the county would fund mosquito control somehow.


    Escambia County led the state last year in human West Nile Virus infections with seven.


    Residents with homes worth $125,000 claiming a homestead exemption would have paid about $11 a year under the increase.


    "I think that the county could find money someplace else other than taxing people," said county resident John Otnes.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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